Housing2024 Eviction Law Updates: What You Need to Know

June 14, 20240

The South Dakota legislature approved two significant changes to the legal eviction process this year, both of which will negatively impact East River Legal Services clients.

The first bill is Senate Bill 89 which amended SDCL §43-8-8. The previous version of this law required landlords to give a 30 day notice to terminate a tenancy at will. As amended, landlords are only required to give15 days’ notice to terminate a tenancy at will.

Proponents for this bill argued the change would help landlords to efficiently deal with squatters and very few people in South Dakota would be affected. A tenancy at will is still an agreement between the landlord and the tenant, it just means the parties did not agree on the end date. Squatters, by definition, have no legal right to the property and are not addressed in this law.

East River Legal Services is concerned about the number of vulnerable South Dakotans who rely on this type of lease and do not have access to legal representation when confronted with problems. Realistically, the most vulnerable types of tenants are most likely to use a tenancy at will rather than traditional written leases. They may choose this because they have prior evictions, prior criminal convictions, poor credit score, limited financial resources, or limited English proficiency. It is unclear how many South Dakotans rely on this type of lease to ensure they have access to safe housing.

The second major change to the eviction process comes with Senate Bill 90. This bill alters two existing laws. The first, SDCL § 21-16-2, which details the procedure for a Notice to Quit was repealed entirely. A Notice to Quit is the initial document served in an eviction proceeding to put the tenant on notice that an eviction will happen if they remain on the property.  Without this document, tenants will not know about the eviction until a Summons and Complaint is served to them. This removes any opportunity for the tenant to negotiate with the landlord or to vacate the property to avoid an eviction. The second part of the bill amends SDCL §21-16-7 to allow one additional day for the tenant to file an Answer to the Summons and Complaint. Previously tenants had four days but now they will have five.

East River Legal Services frequently sees cases where tenants don’t know about the eviction until they receive the Order for Default Judgment. Personal service of the Summons and Complaint is not required to be completed in eviction cases under South Dakota law. It only needs to be attempted twice before the Summons and Complaint can be posted to the door of the property. A landlord is also not required to file the Summons and Complaint with the courthouse prior to starting personal service. Very often landlords will wait until after the deadline for filing an Answer has passed before filing the Summons and Complaint with the courthouse, along with their Application for Default Judgment. If a tenant goes to the courthouse to file their Answer and the Summons and Complaint is not in the court’s filing system, they will be turned away. An additional day will not help tenants if they do not know an eviction is occurring.


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