A lease of premises may include a clause allowing the landlord to recover arrears of rent by issuing a warrant to seize goods owned by the tenant which are in the premises. The procedure of seizing the goods are contained in sections 13-46 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1936 (SA). The landlord can issue the warrant without giving notice to the tenant. The warrant can only be for unpaid rent, not other charges owed by the tenant. The warrant can be written by the landlord or a lawyer. It must be served on the tenant or left in a prominent position in the premises. Once served, the tenant's goods can be seized immediately.
Usually a licensed process server will seize the goods for the landlord and prepare an inventory. The goods should be sold by auction and a reasonable attempt must be made to obtain a market price for the goods. It is not possible to challenge a warrant properly executed by a landlord. However, it may be possible to apply to a court for an urgent injunction to delay the warrant if it can be proved that arrears will be paid promptly, that there are no arrears or that there is a counter claim against the landlord. A warrant cannot be delayed for causing hardship to the tenant.
If a lease does not contain a clause allowing the landlord to seize goods, then the landlord cannot seize the tenant's goods and would be liable for any damage caused. If someone other than the tenant has goods in the premises and wants to recover them the person must complete a sworn declaration giving details of ownership and then serve this form on the landlord [Landlord and Tenant Act 1936 (SA) s 22].
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