Georgia Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Georgia landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to Georgia landlord tenant statutes.

GA Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Georgia Code Title 44, Chapter 7 - Landlord and Tenant

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act Sec.604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

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Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.

Any verbal agreement made between a landlord and tenant can only last for up to one year. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-2.(a)]
   
Any lease without a specified time period is considered as a "Tenancy at will" under Georgia landlord tenant law. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-6]
   
The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.
   
For a fixed term lease, the landlord or tenant cannot terminate a fixed term lease prematurely...  unless they both agree to it or one party has a valid legal reason to do so - See Terminating Lease and Eviction below.

For a tenancy at will, the tenant will be entitled to the profits of his or her crops in the following situations [O.C.G.A. 44-7-8]:

  • The crops are planted before the landlord gives him or her the notice of termination of the tenancy
  • The tenancy is terminated by the sale of the estate by the landlord, or by the death of the landlord or tenant
  • The tenancy is suddenly terminated for any other cause

If any area of the property's living space has been flooded three (or more) times in the last five years, the landlord must disclose it to the tenant before signing the lease. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-20]

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Georgia landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property [O.C.G.A. 44-7-3.(a)(2)]
  • Name and address of property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner) [O.C.G.A. 44-7-3.(a)(1)]
  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

The landlord must inform the tenant of any changes in names or addresses within 30 days.

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Georgia landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • limit the landlord's liability when they have failed in their duties (see Landlord Duties and Responsibilities below)
  • make the tenant pay for the landlord's attorney fees (unless the lease makes the landlord responsible for the landlord's attorney fees)
  • avoid compliance with local laws
  • exempt the landlord from the Georgia Security Deposit Act
  • allow eviction without going through the proper process in court

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Security Deposit

As long as the tenant is agreeable, Georgia landlord tenant law doesn't limit the maximum amount of security deposit the landlord can ask for. Both the landlord and tenant have to agree on the security deposit amount, and this amount must be stated in the written tenancy agreement. For residential properties in the United States, it is fairly common for landlords to ask for about one month's rent as security deposit.

The landlord can ask for other non-refundable fees, but the security deposit has to be returned (after allowed deductions). [O.C.G.A. 44-7-30.(3)]

If the landlord is paying a third party to manage the property OR If the landlord and family (spouse plus non-adult children) owns 10 or more rental units, the following Georgia landlord tenant laws shall apply too [O.C.G.A. 44-7-36]:

  • The landlord has to hold the security deposit in an escrow account and inform the tenant of its location in writing. This escrow account doesn't have to generate interest and the landlord doesn't have to pay interest to the tenant. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-31]
  • The landlord has to give the tenant a list of any existing damages to the rental unit before collecting security deposit. The tenant also has the right to inspect the rental unit to verify the details in the list before moving in. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-33.(b)]

If the landlord fails to deposit the security deposit in an escrow account or provide written statements to the tenant within the above time periods, the landlord shall forfeit his or her right to the security deposit. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-35.(a),(b)]

Deductions and Returns

The Georgia Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.

Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Georgia landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-34.(a)] *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

If the landlord is paying a third party to manage the property OR If the landlord and family (spouse plus non-adult children) owns 10 or more rental units: A move-out inspection of the property has to be carried out within three business days after termination of the lease. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-33.(b)] [O.C.G.A. 44-7-36]

After this inspection, the landlord must send the tenant a signed list of security deposit deductions (move-out inspection list). The tenant may inspect the rental property within five days (after termination of the lease) to ensure that the deductions are correct before signing the inspection list. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-33.(b)]

If a landlord fails to follow Georgia landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover up to three times the amount of security deposit plus attorney fees. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-35.(c)]

Regardless of how many rental units the landlord owns, he or she must return any remaining deposit to the tenant within one month. The deduction list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-34.(a)]

If the landlord has made reasonable efforts to return the security deposit but the tenant isn't contactable, the landlord shall be allowed to keep the security deposit after 90 days (of the deposit being mailed to the tenant). [O.C.G.A. 44-7-34.(a)]

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Atlanta, Georgia GA

Georgia Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

There are no specific Georgia landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments. If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it must be specified in the lease agreement.

If the tenant's check bounces, the landlord may charge the tenant up to $30 or 5% of check check (which is greater) plus any bank fees for the bounced check. [O.C.G.A. 13-6-15]

Raising Rent

There are no specific Georgia landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Georgia Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition. The landlord shall also be responsible for all substantial property improvements that he or she implements. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-13]

Once the landlord has given up right of possession, he or she shall not be responsible for third party damages caused by the tenant's negligence or illegal usage of the rental unit. However the landlord is still responsible for the damages resulting from defective construction or poor property maintenance. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-14]

Under the Georgia Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord is responsible for the following:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Utilities: Supply running water, electricity, plumbing, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable

The landlord shall NOT be responsible for the following (unless agreed upon in the rental agreement):

  • Obvious damages and defects that weren't mentioned by the tenant during the move-in inspection (unless it makes the property unsafe or unsanitary)
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators or stoves (unless they were provided by the landlord)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Georgia landlord tenant law disallows the tenant from removing permanent fixtures or destroying live trees.

The tenant may use fallen or dead timber for firewood and cattle. The tenant may remove the landlord's trade fixtures. After the tenancy is terminated, all remaining trade fixtures will be considered as abandoned and will become the landlord's property. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-12]

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant may send the landlord a written notice to request for repairs. After receiving this written notice, the landlord has to make repairs within a reasonable time.

If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may proceed with one of the following actions:

1. The tenant can sue the landlord for damages
   
The tenant can sue the landlord for damages resulting from poor property maintenance. If the landlord sues the tenant back, the tenant can try to counterclaim for additional damages.
   
2. The tenant can hire someone to make repairs and deduct the cost from rent
   
The tenant may hire a qualified and licensed professional to carry out required repairs at a reasonable cost and deduct the cost from the next month's rent. The tenant has to keep the receipts for the repairs.

3. The tenant can move out of the property if it is uninhabitable

If the rental unit is uninhabitable and cannot be restored to a livable condition by ordinary repairs, the tenant can stop paying rent and move out of it.

4. The tenant can contact a housing code inspector

If the property is in very poor condition, the tenant can contact housing code inspector to inspect it. If the inspector condemns the property, the lease will be terminated and the tenant will be able to move out. Before moving out, the tenant must have proof that the property was condemned and give landlord a written notice to terminate the lease.

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Property Access

There are no specific Georgia landlord tenant laws on when or how the landlord (or the landlord's agents) can enter the rental property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

There are no specific Georgia landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

Any lease or agreement that rents, sublets or assigns a property for prostitution will be voided. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-18]

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Augusta, Georgia GA

Augusta, Georgia GA

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Georgia landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit before terminating a tenancy.
   
For a fixed term lease, the lease will be terminated when it expires.

For a tenancy at will, a landlord has to give the tenant a notice to quit 60 days in advance, while a tenant has to give the landlord a notice to quit 30 days in advance. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-7]

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

30 days

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

Georgia landlord tenant law allows a service member to terminate the tenancy agreement if ONE of the following conditions is met:

  • The service member received orders for a permanent change of station that is 35 miles or more from the rental unit
  • The service member is released from duty after leasing the rental unit AND the rental unit is 25 miles or more from the service member's home on record
  • The service member received orders requiring him or her to move into government quarters after entering into a rental agreement
  • The service member became eligible to live in government quarters AND the service member will forfeit his or her basic housing allowance if he or she doesn't move into government quarters
  • The service member received temporary duty orders or temporary change of station to an area 35 miles or more from the rental unit for more than 60 days
  • The service member received a change of orders to 35 miles or more from the rental unit before taking possession of it

The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written notice to quit AND a copy of the military orders or written verification signed by the service member's commanding officer.

If the service member dies during active duty, his or her family member may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord with a written notice to quit at least 30 days before the intended termination date.

The service member will have to pay (pro-rated) rent up to the termination date.

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Eviction

According to Georgia landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

*Immediate

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

Not stated

*If the tenant fails to pay rent on time more than once within 12 months, the landlord can file for immediate eviction. After eviction has been filed, the tenant has seven days to pay all rents owed to avoid eviction. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-50.(a)] [O.C.G.A. 44-7-52]

Property Damage Due to Fire or Natural Disaster

If the property or its contents are badly damaged by fire or natural disaster (such as earthquake or flood), the landlord is still allowed to collect rent as long as the destruction was not caused by the landlord. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-15]

Unlawful Eviction

Georgia landlord tenant law requires the landlord to go through the court dispossessory process before he or she can evict the tenants or prevent access to the rental unit.

According to Georgia landlord tenant law, valid reasons for eviction include:

  • Tenant did not pay rent
  • Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties
  • Tenant didn't move out after the lease was terminated

During an eviction process, the tenant is allowed to remain in possession of the property until a court decision is made. The landlord cannot cut off utilities during this period.  [O.C.G.A. 44-7-14.1.(b)]

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can make the landlord pay a fine of up to $500. [O.C.G.A. 44-7-14.1.(c)]

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Abandonment

There are no specific Georgia landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?
  • What will happen to the tenant's abandoned belongings? - Can the landlord dispose or sell them immediately OR does the landlord have to hold it for a period of time?
  • If the landlord is holding the abandoned belongings, how long does the tenant have to claim it back AND does the tenant have to pay the landlord any holding costs?

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Resources

Georgia Landlord Tenant Law: Georgia Code Title 44 - Property Chapter 7 - Landlord and Tenant

Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook: A Landlord Tenant Guide to the State's Rental Laws

Eviction: Landlord Tenant Dispossessory

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