South Dakota Rent Control Laws in 2024

South Dakota does not have any statewide rent control laws limiting how much landlords can raise rents each year. Cities and counties in South Dakota are allowed to implement their own rent control ordinances if desired, but very few have chosen to do so to date. This means landlords have broad flexibility when it comes to raising rents, and tenants have little protection against excessive increases. 

South Dakota is known as a very "landlord friendly" state due to this lack of rent regulations. Landlords enjoy full control over setting initial rent prices for their properties. They can also raise rents as frequently as they want with virtually no restrictions on the maximum percentage increase allowed each year. Rent control is essentially prohibited across most of South Dakota, with a few localized exceptions.

Rent Increase Notice Requirements  

Landlords in South Dakota must provide tenants with proper written notice before increasing rent on a rental unit. The required notice period depends on the rental situation:

  • For month-to-month tenancies, landlords must give tenants at **least 1 full calendar month** of advance written notice before a rent increase goes into effect. This means notifying the tenant on or before the 1st day of the month prior to the month the increase will take effect.
  • For tenancies based on a lease agreement, landlords must abide by the notice terms spelled out in the lease. If no notice period is mentioned, 1 month is typically the default requirement. 
  • The notice provided must be in writing and inform the tenant of the new increased rental rate they will be expected to pay. Verbal notifications or text messages do not qualify as proper notice under South Dakota law.

If a landlord fails to provide adequate advance written notice as required, the tenant is entitled to refuse paying the increased amount until proper notice has been given. Landlords cannot backdate a rent increase or apply it retroactively if they miss providing notice in the prior month as mandated by law.

Frequency of Rent Increases

Unlike some other states, South Dakota does not have any limits on how often landlords can raise rents. Landlords in South Dakota have full discretion to increase rents as frequently as they want, whether monthly, quarterly, or at any other interval. 

There is no law prohibiting landlords from raising rents multiple times per year or even every month if they choose to do so. The frequency of rent increases is left entirely up to the landlord's discretion. As long as proper notice is given (which is just 1 month in South Dakota), landlords can continue to raise rents over and over again without any limit.

This gives landlords in South Dakota tremendous power compared to states that cap how often rents can be increased in a 12 month period. Tenants have little recourse and limited protections when it comes to the frequency of rent hikes. A landlord could theoretically increase the rent every month if they wanted to, as crazy as that sounds.

So in summary, South Dakota landlords can raise rents as often as they want with no restrictions on frequency. There are no legal limits in South Dakota on how frequently rents can be increased, unlike some other states that have annual caps.

Amount of Rent Increases

Unlike many other states, South Dakota does not impose any limits on how much a landlord can raise the rent. There are no statewide caps or maximum allowable amounts for rent increases in South Dakota. Landlords have full discretion to raise rents by any amount, as frequently as they choose. 

The lack of regulation over rent increases gives landlords broad power to continuously jack up rental rates. Without caps on rent hikes, some tenants have experienced dramatic increases of 50%, 100%, or even higher when their lease is up for renewal. While gouging tenants with exorbitant rent increases may not lead to happy tenants or full occupancy, it is perfectly legal in South Dakota.

While there may be market pressures that discourage excessive rent hikes in competitive rental markets, landlords ultimately have free rein to charge whatever the rental market will bear. Cities and towns in South Dakota are prohibited from implementing their own caps on rent increases, so tenants have little recourse against unreasonable raises. Renters should be prepared for unpredictable and potentially steep rent increases upon lease renewal in South Dakota. Signing longer term leases and staying in good standing with landlords are the only ways tenants can try to positively influence rent increase amounts.

Justification for Rent Increases

In South Dakota, landlords do not need to provide any justification or reason when raising rents on rental properties. There is no requirement for landlords to explain or defend the underlying cause for a rent increase of any amount. 

Some valid reasons a South Dakota landlord may choose to increase rents include:

  • Increasing property taxes or operating expenses
  • Upgrades and capital improvements made to the property  
  • Changes in market rates for comparable rental units in the area
  • General increases in demand for rental housing
  • To keep up with inflation and cost of living increases
  • To maximize profit and increase cash flow from the property

However, none of these potential motivations need to be proven or disclosed to tenants when notice is given of a forthcoming rent increase. The lack of rent control laws in South Dakota grants landlords full discretion when it comes to determining the necessity and amount of any rent hikes. Tenants have no legal recourse to challenge or appeal a rent increase, regardless of the amount or perceived fairness and must either accept the higher rent or give proper notice and vacate the premises.

Rent Control Exemptions 

South Dakota does not have statewide rent control laws. However, in the few cities that have implemented local rent control ordinances, certain types of rental properties are exempt:

  • New Construction: Newly constructed rental units are exempt from rent control for a certain number of years after completion, usually 5-10 years. This is done to encourage developers to build more housing units.  
  • Single Family Homes and Condos: Rent control laws typically only apply to large apartment buildings with multiple units. Single family homes and condominiums that are rented out are exempt.
  • Owner-Occupied Duplexes/Triplexes: Smaller owner-occupied rental properties like duplexes and triplexes are generally exempt from rent control. Only large, corporate owned apartment buildings are covered.
  • Short Term Rentals: Rental units leased for less than 12 months at a time, such as vacation rentals or month-to-month tenancies, are exempt from rent control restrictions. Long term leases over 12 months may be covered.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs): Also known as in-law suites, basement apartments or carriage houses, ADUs are exempt from local rent control laws in most cities. 

The exemptions vary somewhat between cities and counties with rent control. But in general, single family homes, condos, new construction, and smaller rentals tend not to be covered by rent control ordinances in South Dakota.

Rent Control Enforcement

South Dakota does not have any statewide laws around rent control and rent increase limits. As a result, there is no formal entity that enforces rent control policies on a statewide basis. 

In the few cities and counties that have implemented some form of rent control ordinance, the local government handles complaints related to illegal rent increases or other violations of the rent control law. For example, in Brookings which has rent control laws, the city's Residential Rental Housing Board is tasked with enforcing the local ordinance. Tenants would report any complaints about rent overcharges or retaliation from their landlord to this city agency.

For the vast majority of cities and towns in South Dakota that lack local rent control, there is no official channel for tenants to turn to if their landlord imposes an excessive rent increase. Without any legal limits on how much rents can be raised, landlords have full discretion to charge market rates even if that involves very large hikes year-over-year. 

The only recourse a tenant would have is to pursue civil action against a landlord who raises rents to an extremely unreasonable amount in an attempt to constructively evict the tenant. However, the bar for proving constructive eviction is very high under South Dakota law. Most courts defer to landlords' right to charge market-driven rents even in cases of egregious rent hikes.

In summary, the lack of rent control laws in the state means there are no regulatory bodies that oversee or enforce reasonable limits on rent increases. Tenants have little power or options to challenge large rent hikes outside of a few cities with modest rent control.

Retaliatory Evictions

South Dakota law prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants who exercise their legal rights. If a tenant complains to an authority about unsafe or unhealthy housing conditions, or participates in a tenant's union, the landlord cannot retaliate by unlawfully increasing rent, decreasing services, unjustly evicting, or harassing the tenant. 

However, the law does not prevent evictions for other valid reasons like failure to pay rent. Tenants have the burden of proving retaliation was the primary motivation if the landlord takes adverse action shortly after the tenant exercised their rights. Damages and attorney fees may be awarded for illegal retaliation.

Rent Withholding

In certain situations, tenants in South Dakota have the legal right to withhold rent payments to their landlord. This can occur when a landlord fails to maintain the rental unit according to health, building or housing codes, or violates other terms of the lease agreement.  

If a landlord does not make necessary repairs or address serious maintenance issues like a broken heater, faulty plumbing, pest infestations, or damaged walls and floors, the tenant can withhold rent after providing written notice. The notice should specify the repairs needed and give the landlord a reasonable timeframe, such as 30 days, to address them.

Tenants may also withhold rent if a landlord attempts an illegal entry into the unit, cuts off utilities, or does not provide essential services outlined in the lease, like water, heat, or laundry facilities in an apartment building. Withholding rent gives the tenant leverage to force the landlord to fulfill their duties.

To legally withhold rent in South Dakota, the tenant must be current on all rent payments. The amount withheld should be reasonable based on the severity of the violation, and the tenant should set aside the withheld money into an escrow account. 

It's advisable for tenants to consult a lawyer first before deciding to withhold rent, to ensure it is lawful in their circumstance. Withholding rent incorrectly or without following proper procedures can allow the landlord to evict the tenant.

Termination and Eviction Rules

In South Dakota, landlords must provide tenants with proper notice before terminating a rental agreement or evicting a tenant.

Notice to Terminate Tenancy

For month-to-month rental agreements, landlords must provide tenants with at least one full month's notice before termination. This means if a landlord wants a tenant to vacate by May 1st, written notice must be given to the tenant by March 31st. 

The termination notice must clearly state the date the tenancy will end and advise the tenant to vacate the property by that date. Serving improper or insufficient notice could delay the eviction process.

Eviction Process 

If a tenant does not move out after receiving proper notice of lease termination, the landlord must go through the eviction process to remove the tenant. The steps in the eviction process (known as an Unlawful Detainer action) in South Dakota include:

  • Landlord gives tenant a written Notice to Quit, providing at least 3 days for the tenant to vacate before the landlord files suit
  • Landlord files a Summons and Complaint for eviction with the court 
  • Tenant is served the court papers by sheriff or process server
  • Tenant has 10 days to file a written Answer with the court
  • Court hearing is scheduled 10-15 days after Answer deadline
  • Judge hears case, issues Order of Eviction if landlord claim is valid
  • Tenant has 2 days to appeal eviction Order
  • Sheriff forcibly removes tenant if no appeal and tenant refuses to leave

The eviction process has precise steps and procedures landlords must strictly follow. Landlords cannot take shortcuts like changing locks, removing tenant belongings, or shutting off utilities to force a tenant out. Doing so can open the landlord up to lawsuits and damages.

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