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For this month’s Rural Legalities I thought I would take a slightly different approach to the normal articles about different aspects of the law and instead comment on some of the issues facing professional firms, including law firms, in the regions.

I read with some interest one of Michael Bagshaw’s recent Business Buzz articles. The article related to professionals, including lawyers working in areas of regional SA and, in particular, the benefits of working in regional SA. I’m sure I don’t have to convince those who live in regional areas of the benefits of living regionally - doing interesting work for great clients across a broad range of areas, being able to be part of a community ant potentially having more of a work-life balance are just a few of the advantages.

There are, however, some challenges for professional business based in regional areas. It can be hard to attract staff, particularly where the person has not lived regionally before. Then, if you do manage to recruit talented staff, it can be difficult to find accommodation for them, particularly with the short supply of rental or housing options.

Interestingly there is a review being undertaken in relation to SA’s rental laws, with consultation closed at the end of December last year. The review is intended to be a wide-ranging one, although some changes have already been implemented.

One change has been increasing the bond threshold from $250 to $800. The consequence of this is that where the weekly rent is below $800, it is only permissible to claim a four week bond, whereas above this amount, a bond can be six weeks.

A further change being pursued is to ban ‘rent-bidding’ – where properties are put up for rent auction or offers are sought above the advertised rental price.

It will be interesting to see what further changes come about as a result of the review. Hopefully it starts to ease some of the rental pressures, which in turn will ease one of the burdens on both regional businesses and individuals.

This article was published in the March 2023 edition of The Stock Journal