Navigating SACAT

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Before you end up in a SACAT hearing read this.

Unfortunately, not everyone is a reliable and trustworthy tenant.

You might have seen stories of landlords left out of pocket because of tenants that have ruined properties, or are lax in paying their rent. 

This is a nightmare for all landlords, but especially those who are managing their own properties and now have to navigate SACAT hearings. 

One of the major benefits of having a property manager is that they are experts in navigating these crises. 

But, not everyone chooses to use professionals. 

So to help self-managers out we've developed this brief guide on how to help get better outcomes from SACAT.

What is SACAT?

SACAT is the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a body that helps South Australians resolve disputes through conference, conciliation, mediation, or through a decision of the Tribunal at a hearing.

SACAT is also the body that will (hopefully) resolve disputes between tenants and landlords without the stress of full legal action. 

Why would I be at SACAT?

As a self-managing landlord there are any number of reasons why you might be at a SACAT hearing. 

You may be there to dispute bond payments, to reclaim rent, for a breach of lease, or for outstanding water bills.  

There may be more serious reasons as well. 

The tenant may be claiming you've failed in your obligations to them, which may result in you paying compensation to the tenant. 

You may also be there because the tenant is refusing to vacate the premesis.

There are many many reasons why you might be at SACAT.

Some are more stressful than others, but none of them are good.

How do I prepare for a SACAT hearing? 

Like with all legal disputes documentation is key here. 

You'll need to ensure you have records of all communication. So it is best to capture as much communication as you can with your tenant in writing.

You'll also need to ensure that your documentation is well maintained and organised, with nothing missing from the record. 

Or if there is something missing, some documentation about why it is missing.

You should also take photos of the condition of the property, document the ages of amenities, and of course keep a proper rent ledger. 

If your tenant is paying water you'll need to keep records of when you issue the bill to them, and when these are paid.

You'll also want to perform and document routine inspections, as well as maintenance requests and completions of those maintenance requests. 

It is a lot of work, but doing this is the only way to ensure a fair hearing with SACAT. 


SACAT is less about winning a dispute and more about coming to an agreement with it. 

So prepare for some compromise, and ensure you're there to work out a solution rather than get what you want. 

Consider using a professional

Sometimes it is easier just to use a professional property manager.

While managing a property yourself if rewarding, the work it takes can quickly become another full-time job.

If you're looking at that list and wondering if it is really worth all that administrative work, get in contact with us. 

We'll take that off your hands, so you can enjoy the benefits of property investment without the hassle.

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