Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in South Dakota

Key landlord-tenant laws that every landlord and tenant in South Dakota should know.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

South Dakota laws govern much of the landlord-tenant relationship, including security deposits, late rent, and evictions. Here's a breakdown of key laws that affect nearly all South Dakota landlords and tenants.

South Dakota Rental Application and Tenant Screening Laws

South Dakota law doesn't regulate many aspects of the tenant application and screening process. Unlike landlords in many other states, South Dakota landlords are free to charge an application fee to apply for a rental.

All landlords need to follow federal and state antidiscrimination laws when screening applicants for a rental. Federal fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of:

  • race or color
  • religion
  • national origin
  • familial status or age (includes families with children under the age of 18 and pregnant women)
  • disability or handicap, and
  • sex (includes gender identity and sexual orientation).

South Dakota law also bars landlords from discriminating on the basis of creed and ancestry. (S.D. Codified Laws § 20-13-20 (2024).)

For more information about South Dakota's fair housing laws, check out the South Dakota Legal Self-Help housing discrimination webpage.

South Dakota Security Deposit Laws

South Dakota law dictates how much landlords can charge for a security deposit and when they must return the security deposit. South Dakota doesn't require landlords to pay interest on security deposits.

South Dakota Maximum Security Deposit

South Dakota landlords can't charge more than one month's rent for a security deposit. However, if there are special conditions on the property that pose a danger to maintenance of the rental, the landlord and tenant may agree to a higher security deposit. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-6.1 (2024).)

When and How Landlords Must Return Security Deposits in South Dakota

Within two weeks of when the tenancy ends and the landlord receives the tenant's forwarding mailing address, the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant. If the landlord keeps any or all of the deposit to cover unpaid rent or damages, they must provide a written statement of the reason for withholding it.

If the tenant requests an itemized accounting of the use of the security deposit, the landlord must provide one within 45 days after the tenancy ends.

If the landlord doesn't follow these rules, they lose the right to keep any of the deposit. And, if the landlord keeps any part of a deposit or fails to give a statement or itemization in bad faith, they might be subject to punitive damages of no more than $200. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-24 (2024).)

Required Landlord Disclosures in South Dakota

In many states, landlords must disclose specific information to tenants and potential tenants. South Dakota law requires only one disclosure: A landlord who has knowledge of the existence of prior manufacturing of methamphetamines at the rental must disclose that information to any actual or potential tenants. If the rental has two or more units, the landlord has to make the disclosure only for the tenants of the unit where meth was present. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-30 (2024).)

Landlords in all states, though, must follow federal lead-based paint disclosure rules.

South Dakota Late Fees and Other Rent Rules

Rent is due on whatever day the landlord and tenant agree to. Landlords can charge tenants a fee for paying rent late, but any late fee should be a reasonable estimate of the cost that the landlord incurs because the rent is late (for example, any interest or collection costs). Late fees should be disclosed in the lease or rental agreement—otherwise, a court might not enforce them.

Grace Periods

South Dakota landlords aren't required to give tenants a rent payment grace period—rent is due on the date specified in the lease or rental agreement, and a landlord can consider it late if it's not paid on that date. However, if the lease or rental agreement gives the tenant a grace period for paying rent, the landlord must honor it.

Rent Increases

South Dakota landlords can't raise the rent during the term of a lease unless the lease specifically allows them to do so.

For month-to-month tenancies, landlords can raise the rent if they give the tenant at least 30 days' written notice. If the tenant doesn't want to continue renting after receiving a notice of a rent increase, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement effective the first day of the next month by providing notice to the landlord within 15 days of receiving the increase notice. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-13 (2024).)

Landlords in South Dakota Must Provide Habitable Rentals

Landlords in South Dakota have a duty to keep the rental and all common areas repaired, fit for human habitation, and in good and safe working order. This includes maintenance of the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. This duty can't be waived or modified, but the landlord and tenant can agree to have the tenant perform specified repairs or maintenance in lieu of rent. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-8 (2024).)

Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent in South Dakota

If the landlord fails to keep the rental repaired and fit for human habitation, the tenant must notify the landlord and give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the repairs. If the landlord doesn't make the repairs, the tenant has the choice of:

  • making the repairs themselves and either deducting the cost from rent or suing the landlord, or
  • moving out.

A tenant who chooses to move out under these circumstances won't be responsible for future rent under the lease.

If the cost of the repairs is more than one month's rent, though, the tenant can withhold rent and put the rent in a separate bank account maintained only for making the repairs. Before depositing the rent in this account, the tenant must give the landlord a written notice stating the specific reason for the rent withholding and provide the tenant with evidence of the account. The tenant must maintain the account until the landlord makes the repairs or there's enough money in the account to cover the cost of the repairs. This remedy is available only when the issue affects habitability. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-9 (2024).)

Small Claims Lawsuits in South Dakota

If you find yourself in a battle over a security deposit or repairs, small claims court is a good place to bring your grievance. Small claims courts in South Dakota can hear cases in which the plaintiff—the person suing—isn't asking for more than $12,000. (S.D. Codified Laws § 15-39-45.1 (2024).)

Small claims court procedures tend to be simpler than those of regular courts, and although South Dakota allows parties to have lawyers, many people represent themselves.

South Dakota Termination and Eviction Rules

South Dakota landlords must follow very specific rules and procedures in order to terminate a tenancy and then, if necessary, file an eviction lawsuit.

Notice of Termination for Cause

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant in South Dakota before the lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause—in other words, a legally valid reason to terminate the tenancy.

In South Dakota, reasons to terminate the tenancy before the lease expires include:

  • failing to pay rent for three days after the due date
  • committing waste (serious damage) at the rental
  • breaking a material term of the lease or rental agreement, or
  • failing within a reasonable time after a request to make repairs that the tenant is required to make.

(S.D. Codified Laws §§ 21-16-1, 43-32-18 (2024).)

When a landlord wants a tenant to leave for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the tenancy. This is done by giving the tenant notice—the type of notice depends on the situation.

  • Termination for nonpayment of rent. If the tenant fails to pay rent when it's due, the landlord must wait until the rent has been late for three days, then give the tenant a three-day notice to quit. The notice must state that because the tenant failed to pay rent for three days after it was due, the landlord is terminating the tenancy. If the tenant doesn't move out by the end of the three-day notice period, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. (S.D. Codified Laws §§ 21-16-1(4), 21-16-2 (2024).)
  • Termination for waste, breach of rental agreement, or failure to repair. If the tenant breaches a material term of the rental agreement, seriously damages the rental, or fails to make required repairs, the landlord can terminate the tenancy as soon as the breach or damage occurs. The landlord isn't required to give the tenant notice or a chance to fix the problem. Rather, the landlord can go straight to court and file an eviction lawsuit. (S.D. Codified Laws §§ 21-16-1(7), 43-32-18 (2024).)

Notice of Termination Without Cause

The process for ending a tenancy without cause depends on the type of tenancy. Here's what needs to happen to end a month-to-month tenancies or a tenancy with a long-term lease.

Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy Without Cause

If the tenant has a written month-to-month rental agreement, and the landlord wants the tenant to move out but doesn't have cause to end the tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant notice in writing at least one month's notice that the tenancy is ending.

Tenants who are on active military service or who have a spouse or minor child who is on active military service must receive two months' notice unless the:

  • tenant has engaged in sustained conduct that's either disruptive to other residents or neighbors, illegal, destructive, or negligent toward the maintenance of the property, or constitutes a material breach of the rental agreement; or
  • landlord has sold the property or the property has passed to the landlord's estate.

(S.D. Codified Laws § 43-8-8 (2024).)

If the tenant doesn't move out at the end of the month, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Ending a Tenancy With a Long-Term Lease Without Cause

If a landlord wants a tenant with a long-term lease (a lease with a definite end date) to move but doesn't have legal cause to end the tenancy, the landlord has to wait until the lease ends. The landlord isn't required to give the tenant any notice to move unless the terms of the lease require the landlord to do so.

If the tenant doesn't move out when the lease ends, the landlord should stop accepting rent payments and file an eviction lawsuit.

What Landlords Must Do With Tenants' Abandoned Property

After an eviction (or even after a tenant simply moves out), the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property at the rental unit. If the property clearly is garbage, the landlord can throw it away.

If the landlord reasonably thinks that the property is worth $500 or less and the property has been left behind for 10 days or longer, the landlord can assume that it's been abandoned and dispose of it. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-25 (2024).)

When the property appears to be worth more than $500, the landlord must store the property for the tenant. The landlord is granted a lien on the property to reimburse them for the costs of handling and storing the property. If the tenant doesn't claim the property for 30 days or longer, the landlord can treat it as abandoned and dispose of it. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-26 (2024).)

Tenant Defenses to Eviction

Even though a landlord might have a valid reason to evict a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction. For example, the tenant could claim that the eviction is the result of the landlord illegally discriminating, or is in retaliation for the tenant exercising a legal right.

South Dakota law also allows special protections for tenants who have experienced abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. (See the section "Rights of Victims of Crime to End Lease Early," below.) Some of these protections might provide a tenant with a defense against eviction.

A tenant's decision to fight the eviction could increase the costs of the eviction, and it could result in the tenant having more time to remain in the rental. For these reasons, it's often in the best interests of both the tenant and the landlord to try to negotiate a compromise rather than head to court. Mediation is a common way for landlords and tenants to work issues out—check to see if your community has a low-cost or free housing mediation program.

Illegal Evictions

Landlords can't take self-help measures to evict a tenant. For example, South Dakota landlords can't exclude the tenant from the rental by changing the locks, nor can they cut off services such as electricity, gas, water, or other essential services.

When a landlord performs an illegal eviction in this manner, the tenant can sue the landlord to either have the landlord stop their actions or to regain access to the rental. The tenant is also entitled to damages in the amount of two months' rent and the return of any advancement or deposit the tenant paid to the landlord. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-6 (2024).)

Rights of Victims of Crime to End Lease Early

When a tenant or a member of the tenant's household is a victim of alleged sexual abuse, unlawful sexual behavior, or stalking, the tenant can end the lease early and leave without penalty if:

  • the tenant notifies the landlord in writing that the termination is due to the tenant's fear of imminent danger or injury to the tenant or a member of the tenant's household, and
  • the tenant attaches to the notice:
    • a police report of the alleged incident signed during the 30-day period immediately before the notice
    • a protection order issued during the 30-day period immediately before the date of notice, or
    • documentation signed by a licensed health care provider that the provider had reason to believe that the alleged incident had occurred during the 30-day period immediately before the notice.

A tenant in this situation doesn't have to pay an early termination fee or the rent applicable to the month following that in which the tenant leaves the rental. (S.D. Codified Laws § 43-32-19.1 (2024).)

South Dakota Rules About Landlords' Access to Property

South Dakota doesn't have a law specifying how much notice landlords have to give tenants before entering the rental for purposes such as inspections, making repairs, or showing the unit to prospective tenants. In most instances, 24 to 48 hours to enter during normal business hours would be considered reasonable.

Landlords can always enter a rental with the tenant's consent or when there's a reasonable belief that there's imminent danger to lives or property.

Where to Find South Dakota Landlord-Tenant Laws

If you want to read the text of a law itself, such as state security deposit rules, start by checking citations for South Dakota landlord-tenant statutes. To access the statutes themselves, visit the South Dakota Legislature's website—use the search function to find a specific statute. Or, if you don't know the exact statute number, you can enter a keyword that is likely to be in it, such as "nonpayment of rent."

Local Ordinances Affecting South Dakota Landlords and Tenants

Cities and counties often pass local ordinances, such as rent control rules, health and safety standards, noise and nuisance regulations, and anti-discrimination rules that affect landlords and tenants. Many municipalities have websites—just search for the name of a particular city in South Dakota and then do a search when you're on the site.

State and Local Government on the Net and Municode's library are good sources for finding local governments online. Also, your local public library or office of the city attorney, mayor, or city or county manager can provide information on local ordinances that affect landlords and tenants in South Dakota.

Federal Landlord-Tenant Laws and Regulations

Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have enacted laws and regulations that apply to the landlord-tenant relationship in South Dakota. These laws and regulations address topics such as discrimination and landlord responsibilities to disclose environmental health hazards, such as lead-based paint.

The U.S. Code is the starting place for most federal statutory research. It consists of 53 separate numbered titles, each covering a specific subject matter. Most federal regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"). To access the U.S. Code and Code of Federal Regulations online, see the federal section of the Library of Congress's legal research site.

Nolo Resources on Legal Research and Landlord-Tenant Law

For more information on legal research, check out Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias (Nolo). This nontechnical book gives easy-to-use, step-by-step instructions on how to find legal information.

You'll also find a wealth of information in Nolo's landlord-tenant books.

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