To evict a tenant in South Dakota, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit (also called a forcible entry and detainer action) with the court system. Because an eviction is a legal action, it is very important that the landlord follows certain rules and procedures set forth by South Dakota law. Otherwise, the eviction might not be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures that landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in South Dakota.
A landlord who wants a tenant to move out of a rental unit before a tenant’s lease or rental agreement has ended must file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant and the landlord must have legal cause. Legal cause is the basis of the eviction lawsuit, and if the landlord does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord will most likely lose the eviction. South Dakota law defines legal cause as failure to pay rent and violation of the lease or rental agreement. The first step in evicting the tenant for one of these reasons is for the landlord to terminate the tenancy, and in some instances, the landlord will to give the tenant written notice.
A landlord who want a tenant to move, but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, must just wait until the tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
A landlord who wants to end a month-to-month tenancy must give the tenant one month's notice. If the tenant or any member of the tenant’s immediate family is in the military, then the landlord must give the tenant two months’ notice, as long as the tenant has not caused problems toward other residents or the rental unit property or violated the lease or rental agreement. This notice must inform the tenant of the specific date that the tenancy will be ending and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant does not move out by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 43-8-8).
If the landlord wants a tenant with a fixed-term lease (that is, a lease that has a definite end date) to move but does not have legal cause for an eviction, then the landlord must just wait until the lease ends. The landlord is not required to give the tenant any kind of notice to move unless the terms of the lease specifically require the landlord to do so. If the tenant does not move out when the lease ends, then the landlord should stop accepting rent payments from the tenant and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
A tenant always has the option to fight an eviction, even if a landlord has a solid legal cause for eviction. The tenant could have a good legal defense, such as the landlord discriminated against the tenant or failed to maintain the rental unit. The tenant’s decision to fight the eviction could have unintended consequences, such as increased legal fees for both the landlord and the tenant or more time for the tenant to remain living in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in South Dakota has more information on this topic.
The only way for a landlord to remove a tenant from a rental unit is if the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, a law enforcement officer will be the one who actually evicts the tenant, not the landlord. South Dakota law has made it illegal for the landlord to ever try to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit, and the tenant can sue the landlord for trying. Illegal Eviction Procedures in South Dakota has more information on this topic.
After the eviction has occurred, the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property at the rental unit. If the property is clearly garbage, then the landlord can throw it away. However, if the property has value, then the landlord must hold onto it.
If the property is worth less than $500, then the landlord must store the property at the rental unit for ten days. If the tenant does not return to claim the property within ten days, then the landlord can consider the property abandoned and dispose of it (see S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 43-32-25).
If the property is worth more than $500, then the landlord must place a lien on the property and store it for at least 30 days. If the tenant does not claim the property within 30 days, then the landlord can consider the property abandoned and dispose of it (see S.D. Codified Laws Ann. § 43-32-26).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by South Dakota law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.