Landlord Rights in South Dakota

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Many people turn to rental property as an extra source of income.

For others, it's their entire livelihood.

Back in July we told you about Renter's Rights, but what about landlords, and what are their rights?

Renting out property can be a risky business.

That's the focus of our special report "Landlord Rights."

Jamie Al-Haj is one of about 12 million landlords in the United States.

For 17 years, Al-Haj has owned and leased rental properties throughout Rapid City.

She says she's had fantastic tenants over the years, but not everyone is responsible.

Jamie Al-Haj says, "I've had issues of tenants destroying walls, destroying the inside of an apartment and leaving a lot of junk and garbage behind."

Landlord Tina Mulally says when a tenant reports a problem with the apartment, she tries to fix it right away, but sometimes they don't tell her when there's an issue.

Tina Mulally says, "He never let me know that there was water in the apartment. And so the living room carpet was a swimming pool basically. There was mold in the closets. In doing that you have to call in Haz Mat. You cannot deal with black mold."

That health hazard caused her to temporarily move the upstairs tenants for safety reasons and cost her about 10 thousand dollars in repairs.

Should Mulally have footed the bill or the renter?

Rex Hagg, attorney, says, "It will depend on what caused the water damage. Was it something that the landlord failed to repair? Then that of course is on the landlord. But then you get into this, 'You didn't tell me I need to fix it' and so you get into precarious positions that most likely would have to be worked out in court."

Brad Solon from the Department of Community Development says prevention can be the key to locking the door on those types of disasters.

Brad Solon says, "The landlord can check that sort of thing. Occasionally they can stop by and say 'Hey, we're going to stop by. We're going to do some regular maintenance and have a look.' Hopefully you'd think that sort of thing was going on."

Mulally says when a renter admits they're unable to pay the rent that month, she gives some leeway and thinks back to what it was like for her when she struggled to make ends meet.

Tina Mulally says, "You give them a break and it's 30 days. They explain what's going on. You say well, when can you? They give you a date. Then it's another 30 days."

Often times tenants catch up, but sometimes they don't.

Unfortunately Al-Haj says she's had to evict people in the past in some cases it was for not paying rent.

In others it was too many loud, late night parties after multiple warnings.

Katrina Lim asks, "With the eviction process, was that stressful for you?"

Jamie Al-Haj says, "Oh yeah. Nobody likes to be the bad guy. It's just something that I have to be fair to my other tenants also and because it is my livelihood."

Hagg says before you evict someone, you need to give them three days notice... but if it's possible, try to come to a peaceful resolution with your tenant.

If landlords find themselves in a bind, they can go to consumer.sd.gov or refer to South Dakota codified law 43-32.

Ultimately if they can't mutually resolve a dispute with their tenant, they should consult an attorney.