The Laws on Eviction in South Dakota

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South Dakota eviction laws grant landlords the right to end tenants’ leases early when there is a justifiable reason to do so. A lease is a contract, and neither party named on a contract can break it unless one or more of the contract’s terms have been violated by the other side. When a tenant violates his lease, his landlord must comply with South Dakota eviction laws to ensure that the eviction is legally enforceable and for the landlord to avoid possible liability for any related damages.

Evicting a tenant is not the same as breaking a lease in South Dakota. Breaking a lease involves many of the same steps as breaking a lease in other states. This includes the need to provide written notice to the landlord in accordance with the lease-breaking procedure outlined in the lease. Specific circumstances that impact the law may also need to be addressed – for example, if the contract is being broken by a military service member under the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act.

Read More: How to Write an Eviction Letter

Grounds for Eviction in South Dakota

For landlords, breaking a lease in South Dakota is legally enforceable only if the tenant has violated his lease in some way. Under South Dakota eviction laws, the following are valid grounds for eviction:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Failure to leave the property upon the lease’s termination
  • Illegal behavior in the unit, such as selling illegal drugs
  • Violation of specific lease terms, such as having a pet despite the lease prohibiting pets or moving in a roommate without adding her to the lease

The reason for a tenant’s eviction determines how the landlord may proceed.

  1. If the landlord is pursuing eviction because of the tenant’s failure to pay rent, she must first issue a notice to the tenant that states he has three days to pay the rent or vacate the unit. 
  2. If the landlord is pursuing eviction because of the tenant’s lease violations, including illegal acts in the unit, the landlord must issue a notice to vacate the unit within three days – she is not required to give the tenant time to correct his behavior and avoid eviction. This type of South Dakota eviction notice form, the document that informs the tenant that he must vacate the unit to avoid facing an eviction lawsuit, is known as a Notice to Quit.
  3. If the tenant has no lease or if the tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement that the landlord does not want to renew, the landlord may issue a 30-day Notice to Quit to have him vacate the unit. In this scenario, the landlord does not have to provide grounds for the eviction. 

Serving a South Dakota Eviction Notice Form

When a tenant does not comply with a Notice to Quit, the landlord must begin the eviction process. Once the landlord files to begin the eviction process, the tenant receives another South Dakota eviction notice form. This document notifies the tenant that the eviction process has begun and gives him the opportunity to dispute the landlord’s stated reason for the eviction at the scheduled eviction hearing.

At the hearing, both landlord and tenant present their cases to the court. If the court rules in favor of the tenant, finding that no violation occurred, the eviction process ends and the tenant has the right to remain in the unit until his lease expires. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the eviction proceeds and the court issues an Execution for Possession.

Removing Tenants in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the removal of an evicted tenant is law enforcement’s job, not the landlord’s. In fact, a landlord who attempts to self-evict tenants may be liable for any damages the tenants suffer in conjunction with self-eviction attempts. Further, the landlord may forfeit his right to recover owed rent if he attempts to force out tenants without following the procedures required by South Dakota eviction laws. Self-eviction is defined as any action taken in an effort to force tenants to move, such as:

  • Changing the unit’s locks without a court-issued eviction order
  • Turning off utilities to the unit
  • Creating an uninhabitable environment for tenants, such as removing security features or causing an excessive amount of noise

When the court rules in favor of the landlord and issues an Execution for Possession, this order is passed on to the sheriff, who is responsible for overseeing the tenant’s move-out. The landlord may be present at the move-out and may have a locksmith change the locks after the tenant has vacated the unit.