Georgia Landlord-Tenant Law
Perhaps you live in Atlanta and your landlord hasn't been keeping up with pest control efforts and your apartment is overrun with ants. Maybe a tenant in your Marietta apartment complex hasn't paid their $50 per month pet fee for their dog -- which barks at all hours of the night. Is taking them to court the only way to deal with the issue?
Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key Georgia landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.
A common component of most lease agreements in Georgia is the security deposit. Landlords typically charge the amount of one month's rent for a security deposit, though Georgia law doesn't enforce a cap on how much they may charge. The deposit is placed into an escrow account by the landlord where it accrues interest. The landlord may use the deposit to pay for unpaid rent and to repair rental property damages beyond normal wear and tear.
The landlord is required to return the full amount or the remainder of the deposit to the tenant within 30 days from the lease's termination. However, landlords are not required to surrender any accrued interest. If the landlord had to use any amount of the deposit to make repairs or pay for unpaid rent, they must submit a written notice of the charges to the tenant within those 30 days. (See the Official Code of Georgia, Title 44, Chapter 7, Article 2 for more information.)
The lease agreement may be terminated in either of two ways: by the leasing term's natural expiration (i.e. at the end of a one-year lease) or by the landlord or tenant breaking the lease's terms. The written lease will dictate the particular grounds and any penalties for termination.
A tenant can break their lease by neglecting to uphold their responsibilities as detailed in the lease, such as paying rent in a timely manner, keeping the rental property clean and in good condition and obeying property rules and state or local laws. Likewise, a tenant may be able to break their lease early on more reputable grounds like transferring to another city for a job.
A landlord can break the lease by neglecting to uphold their responsibilities, too, such as responding to maintenance requests and offering the same services to all tenants.
In any situation where the lease will be terminated early, both parties must abide by the terms of the lease and Georgia's laws. Whichever party wants to terminate the lease must provide no less than 30 days' written notice to the other party of their intent to end the lease. In many cases, tenants wishing to terminate early must pay an early termination fee, which usually amounts to one month's rent.
Georgia Fair Housing Act
Georgia prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on characteristics that are protected by the state's Fair Housing Act. Specific actions like falsely telling tenants that a rental property is unavailable may be considered discriminatory if the landlord does these things because of a tenant's:
- National origin
- Familial status
The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding contract detailing the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:
- Grounds for lease termination and eviction.
- Repair policy and procedures.
- The length of the leasing term (weeks, months or years).
- The rent rate and payment schedule.
- The security deposit amount and what it covers.
- Roommate and guest policies.
Getting Legal Help from a Georgia Attorney
While many landlord-tenant conflicts can be resolved without going to court, the laws involved in these conflicts are complex. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has provided a Landlord Tenant Handbook with frequently asked questions about Georgia's landlord-tenant laws. If you find you are in need of legal counsel or advice, you should consider hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer to represent your interests.
Speak to an Experienced Landlord Tenant Law Attorney Today
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified landlord tenant lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local landlord tenant attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Law Articles
- I Rent A Room In A House. What Are My Rights?
- Is My Landlord Required To Provide Me With A Smoke Detector?
- Are Landlords Required To Provide Appliances Such As Refrigerators Or Stoves For Use In Their Units?
- A Tenant Wants To Review The Rental File The Landlord Maintains On The Unit. Is The Landlord Required To Allow A Tenant To Review The File?
- Is There A Limit On The Number Of Persons Who Can Reside In A One Bedroom Apartment?
- Must I Inform Prospective Tenants That My Rental Property Contains Lead-Based Paint?
- What Information Can A Landlord Request On An Application? Can Landlords Charge An Application Fee?
- I Recently Inherited Property Which I Do Not Want To Sell At This Time. If I Decide To Rent The Property, What Will My Responsibilities?
- I Own Six (6) Houses Which I Rent. It Seems Someone Is Calling All The Time About Repairs. I Want To Continue To Rent The Properties?
- I Own A Six Unit Residential Apartment Building Which I Rent. There Is A Parking Lot With Designated Parking Places. What Can I Do About Unauthorized Parking?
- What Is A Lease And Why Is It Important?
- What Should A Lease Contain?
- What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Written Lease?
- Does A Tenant Have Any Rights When There Is Not A Written Lease?
- Aren't All Leases Standard? What Difference Does It Make Whether The Tenant Reads The Lease Before Signing It?
- When Should The Tenant Expect To Get A Copy Of The Lease?
- The Resident Management Of My Apartment Complex Refuses To Provide Me With The Name And Address Of The Property Owner. How Can I Obtain This Information?
- Is There A Seventy-Two (72) Hour Period After Signing My Lease During Which I Can Change My Mind And Get Out Of The Lease?
- I Am A Tenant Who Is In Active Military Service And Live In Off-Base Rental Housing. My Lease Is For One Year And Is Renewable.
- When The Lease Has Expired But The Landlord Has Continued To Take Rental Payments, What Rights Does A Tenant Have?
- I Notified My Landlord That I Would Be Terminating The Lease Early. According To The Lease, I Must Pay The Equivalent Of One Months Rent. Is This Proper?
- I Have Received Notice That My Landlord Is Not Going To Renew My Lease. According To The Terms Of The Lease, The Landlord Must Provide Written Notice.
- My Apartment Owner Failed To Make Mortgage Payments And The Property Has Been Foreclosed, What Will Happen?
- The Apartment Complex Where I Live Changed Owners Last Month. The New Owners Have Notified All Tenants That The Old Leases Are Cancelled.
- My Lease Expired Two Months Ago, The Landlord Allowed Me To Continue At The Same Rent Without Signing A New Lease. Now, The Landlord Wants Me To Sign A New Lease.
- Is My Landlord Allowed To Enter The Apartment Without Notifying Me First?
- My Roommate And I Both Signed A Lease But She Has Moved Out. Can I Get Out Of The Lease?
- I Have Decided To Remodel My Apartments And Rent The Units To A Higher Income Market. How Much Notice To Vacate Must I Give The Landlord?
- My Lease Will Expire In Two Months. I Want To Stay In The Same Apartment. What Should I Do?
- I Have A One Year Lease Which Prohibits Pets. I Am Six Months Into My Lease. For The Past Three Months, I Have Kept A Dog In My Home.
- What Is A Security Deposit And Why Do I Have To Pay It?
- What Do I Need To Know About Security Deposits Before I Sign A Lease?
- What Do I Need To Do At The End Of The Tenancy?
- As A Landlord What Can I Deduct From A Tenant's Security Deposit?
- I Am A Landlord Who Rents Two Homes. I Do Not Employ A Management Agent. My Tenants Moved Out, How Do I Return The Security Deposit?
- Is A Landlord Required To Give The Tenant The Interest Earned On The Security Deposit?
- What Is The Landlord Required To Do With The Security Deposit?
- What Happens To The Security Deposit When An Apartment Complex Changes Owners?
- What Other Types Of Deposits May Be Required By The Landlord?
- If An Individual Pays A Security Deposit On An Apartment And The Application Is Rejected, How Long Does The Person Receiving The Deposit Have To Return It?
- What Happens If The Landlord Refuses To Refund The Security Deposit Even Though The Tenant Satisfied The Conditions For Refunding It?
- When I Moved Into The Apartment, Two Windows Did Not Have Screens And Two Other Screens Were Ripped.
- I Made An Application To Move Into An Apartment And Gave The Manager $100 As A Deposit To Hold The Apartment. I Have Decided That I Do Not Want The Apartment. What About The Deposit?
- Can A Landlord Charge Different Rents For The Same Type Of Unit?
- How Often Can A Private Landlord Raise The Rent In A Year? Is There A Limit On How Much Rent Can Be Raised Each Time An Increase Is Put Into Effect?
- My Rent Check For $500 Was Returned By The Bank For Insufficient Funds. My Landlord Wants To Charge Me A $25 Fee And $300 To Cover Costs.
- The Landlord Will Not Accept Only Half Of The Rent. Why Not?
- I Paid The Rent On The 5th Of The Month. The Manager Charged Me A $15.00 Late Fee. Is There A Grace Period Under Georgia Law?
- My Landlord Gave Me Notice That His Records Show That I Did Not Pay Rent For July; It Is Now October. I Paid Rent For August, September And October.
- My Lease Agreement Says That The Tenant Is Responsible For All Repairs. Does The Landlord Not Have A Responsibility For Repairs?
- The Landlord Promised To Replace The Carpet Before I Moved In. I Have Been Living Here For Three (3) Months.
- I Spoke To My Landlord Over A Month Ago About Repairing A Leak In The Kitchen, But It Still Has Not Been Done. What Can A Tenant Do?
- My Lease Specifically Requires The Landlord To Provide Air Conditioning During The Summer. It Has Been Out Of Order For Six Weeks.
- The Roof On My Unit Is Leaking Badly. I Notified The Landlord And It Was Fixed But It Took About Three Weeks To Have The Repairs Completed.
- I Do Not Have A Written Lease Agreement But I Am Renting An Apartment Month-To-Month. The Landlord Is Refusing To Make Repairs.
- Is Pest Control Part Of The Maintenance Responsibilities Of The Landlord?
- My Landlord Will Not Repair A Broken Parking Lot Light. I Am Concerned About My Safety. What Can I Do To Force The Landlord To Make Repairs?
- A Tenant Of Mine Changed The Locks On The Unit Without My Permission And Will Not Give Me A Set Of Keys. The Locks Were Not Broken.
- One Of My Tenants Has Re-Wallpapered A Bathroom And Did A Very Poor Job. The Tenant Did Not Ask My Permission. Can A Tenant Make Alterations?
- There Is A Tree On The Property I Am Renting. I Would Like To Cut It Down Because I Fear It Might Fall On My Home. Can I Cut Down The Tree?
- My Personal Property Was Damaged By A Fire That Started In A Vacant Apartment Next Door.
- The Pipes In My Apartment Froze And When They Melted They Leaked. Who Is Responsible For The Damage To The Pipes And Damage To The Belongings That Were Damaged?
- I Rented A House With Land, The Land Is Fenced. The Fence Was Damaged. Does The Landlord Have To Repair?
- My Landlord Refused To Repair A Hole In My Ceiling And My Personal Property Was Damaged. Can My Landlord Be Held Responsible?
- I Own Rental Property. I Have Been Notified That The County Government Has Declared My Property Unfit For Occupancy.
- My Tenant Has Not Been Seen For Several Weeks; Rent Is Paid. Can I Consider The Property Abandoned?
- When Can A Landlord Begin Legal Proceedings To Evict A Tenant?
- Today I Received A Dispossessory Affidavit Because I Failed To Pay My Rent The First Of The Month. I Now Have Money To Pay My Rent.
- I Terminated My Tenant's Lease Effective The 15th Of October. It Is Now November 1st, The Tenant Has Not Moved And I Filed A Dispossessory Warrant. Now The Tenant Wants To Pay The Rent, Can I Accept It?
- I Do Not Have The Money To Pay My Rent. My Landlord Says My Furniture Will Be Placed On The Street If I Don't Pay The Rent. Can My Landlord Enter The Residence And Remove My Furniture?
- My Landlord Removed All My Possessions And Changed The Locks On The Apartment. He Did Not Give Me Any Warning.
- My Tenants Have Not Paid Rent In Several Months. Can I Turn Off Their Utilities?
- I Have Been Served With A Dispossessory Warrant. It States That I Can File An Answer. What Is An Answer?
- My Tenant Filed An Answer To A Dispossessory Warrant Which I Filed Because She Did Not Pay The Rent.
- My Tenant Was Served With The Dispossessory Warrant By Tack And Mail Service. The Tenant Did Not File An Answer. The Court Says They Can't Issue A Money Judgement.
- The Court Ruled In Favor Of My Tenant In Our Dispossessory Case. I Disagree. What Can I Do?
- The Court Ruled For My Landlord At Our Dispossessory Hearing. How Long Do I Have To Move?
- I Disagree With The Court's Judgment That I Owe My Landlord Money And That I Have To Move. What Can I Do?
- My Lease Is Not Up For Another Six Months. I Am Being Transferred By My Company. What Can I Do To Terminate The Lease?
- My Friend Was Visiting And Accidentally Burned A Hole In The Carpet With A Cigarette. The Landlord Says I Am Responsible For The Damage.
- My Former Landlord Sent Me A Letter Saying That I Owed $500. I Wrote The Landlord Stating That I Disagreed With This Statement.