- The collection of security deposits in Georgia isn’t required, but most landlords require them to prove a tenant’s financial stability and guarantee a payment for damaged property.
- The majority of renters collect a deposit that is equal to one month’s rent.
- The landlord is not required to place the deposit in an interest-bearing account, but the landlord must place the money in an escrow account. (handbook)
- The tenant must also be aware of the accounts location. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-31)
- A landlord has 30 days from move-out to return the deposit. If he/she chooses to withhold some of the amount for damages, an itemized list of the cost of damages should be provided within 3 days. (O.C.G.A §§ 44-7-33 and O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34). The tenant is then allowed to inspect the rental property to confirm the accuracy of the charges. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-33)
- If the landlord intentionally and/or wrongfully withholds a deposit, he/she may be liable for three times the amount withhold in addition to legal fees (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-35)
Rent and Late fees
- There are no statutes regarding rent increase notices, grace periods, when rent is due (at the beginning of the month or the end of the month), or late fees.
- There is no rent control for privately owned, single-family or multiple-unit residential rental properties (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-19)
- There is no statute regarding a tenant withholding rent for failure to provide essential services (water, heat, etc).
Notices and Entry
- If the rental agreement has no specified end date, a 60 day notice is required if the landlord is terminating the lease early; 30 days if the tenant is giving notice. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
- If the rental agreement has a fixed end date no notice is needed.
- If the rental agreement is a month-to-month lease, a landlord must notify a tenant 60 days prior to terminating a lease early; 30 days if the tenant is giving notice (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
- There is no statute regarding a week-to-week lease.
- There is no statute regarding notices before entry, but 24 hours is recommended (see handbook, pg. 13)
- Emergency entry is allowed without notice (see handbook, pg. 13)
- If the tenant asks a landlord about prior deaths on the property, he/she must state the manner in which the individual died.
- A landlord is required to disclose any known presence of lead paint on the property. If there is a presence of lead paint in the unit or common area, the lease must include a federally-approved attachment on lead poisoning prevention.
- If there has been flooding on the property 3 times in the last 5 years, the landlord must disclose this to a tenant prior to signing a lease (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-20)
Eviction Step #1: Inform your tenant with an official notice
An official notice is posted to the tenant. Typically, although this varies based State and county, the landlord hands the notice to the tenant in person, or posts the notice to the door if the tenant is not home. You also may need to send a copy via certified mail.
If a landlord is trying to terminate the lease of an active duty member of the United States armed forces, the United States Coast Guard, the Georgia National Guard, or the Georgia Air National Guard on ordered federal duty for a period of 90 days or longer, must follow a specific process, see O.C.G.A. § 44-7-22 for specific details
Eviction Step #2: Wait for the tenant to respond
- When it is failure to pay rent, the landlord may proceed to dispossessory proceedings immediately upon tenant’s failure to surrender possession upon demand, but a tenant may redeem by presenting rent within 7 days of service of summons. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-52)
- When there is another lease violation (e.g. subletting), there is no statute to resolve the violation.
Eviction Step #3: File With Court
If the tenant has not paid you within the time period outlined in Step #2, then file with the local courts for the official eviction. Both you and the tenant will receive a specific date for the hearing.
Eviction Step #4: Attend the court date
You or your lawyer will want to attend the court hearing and bring proper documentation of the lease violation with you. You should prepare to bring the following, at a minimum:
- Your lease agreement
- Evidence of payment failures / history
- Proof that you served the tenant (Step #1)
- Any communications or other helpful records
Eviction Step #5: Sheriff to remove the tenant
If the tenant does not leave on their own, then you have a right, within a certain amount of time, to request for a sheriff to remove the tenant.
Eviction Step #6: Collecting damages
Most likely, the tenant owes you money for the lease violation. Here are some ways to collect money from the damages:
- Garnish wages
- File in small claims court
- Use a private debt collector
For more information on Georgia Landlord Tenant laws please visit their website here.