Georgia may be renowned for its southern hospitality, but unraveling its complex rental laws and regulations can be far from a welcoming experience. These laws directly impact the rights, responsibilities, and interactions between landlords and tenants, and their comprehensive nature can be overwhelming.
To help landlords and tenants wrap their heads around Georgia’s rental laws, we have prepared this all-encompassing guide that ensures landlords can safeguard their investments and create successful relationships with their tenants. Simultaneously, it equips renters with the knowledge required to understand and assert their rights when needed.
Discover laws surrounding a wide range of crucial landlord-tenant topics, including tenant screening, security deposits, lease agreements, and eviction. With this invaluable resource as your compass, you’ll confidently navigate the rights and regulations found in the Georgia Landlord Tenant Laws Code 44-7.
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Yes, Georgia is widely considered a landlord-friendly state. Georgia law favors landlords in several ways, including:
However, it's important to note that laws can vary by city and that tenants still have ample rights in landlord-friendly states.
Georgia landlords and real estate investors are entitled to certain fundamental rights that enable them to run profitable, efficient rental businesses. Some of those main rights include:
Georgia law also holds rental property owners responsible for certain duties that ensure a smooth tenancy, and more importantly, a habitable living arrangement for their tenants. Some of those responsibilities include:
Just like landlords, Georgia tenants also have fundamental rights, but their rights secure their safety, respect, and health while residing in a rental unit. Some of their main rights include:
Renters in Georgia have their own set of duties to uphold in order to maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. These obligations include:
Georgia tenants can also not remove permanent fixtures or cut or destroy growing trees on the property.
If a tenant fails to fulfill these duties, the landlord may be able to take legal action, such as evicting the tenant.
According to Georgia landlord-tenant law, rental property owners have the right to request rental applications and screen prospective tenants.
Landlords should have a consistent and equal procedure in place to follow regarding criminal background checks so as not to discriminate against one class of people over another. This is especially important for tenants with criminal backgrounds. Refusing to rent to applicants with a criminal record may be discrimination if the refusal has an unjustified discriminatory effect on a protected class, such as Hispanics and African Americans.
Regarding fees, Georgia law does not limit the number of rental application or screening fees a landlord can charge, or how much they can charge for the fee. Generally, the fees are non-refundable even if the prospective renter is not selected.
Georgia law states that a lease or rental agreement can be oral or written, but leases over a year are required to be in writing. It’s important to note that lease agreements in general are not required in the state.
If no lease term is provided, the tenancy is considered at will. In this case, landlords must provide a 60-day notice before terminating the relationship. In contrast, at-will tenants must provide the landlord with a 30-day notice before leaving. These notice periods also apply to all lease types, except for week-to-week leases.
While Georgia does not require specific clauses to be included in a lease agreement, it does prevent certain clauses from being included. Clauses that cannot be added to a rental agreement are as follows:
Discover what you should include in your lease agreement today.
Georgia landlords have the right to collect a security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy to cover any damages beyond normal wear and tear. Georgia law doesn’t limit how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit.
Landlords should also note these other important security deposit laws:
It’s important to note that an escrow account can only be used to hold a security deposit and for nothing else. On the other hand, if the landlord chooses to post a bond with the superior court, they have to do so where the rental unit is located, but they only have to do so if they own 10 or more rental properties.
At the end of a tenancy, landlords have 30 days or a month to return the security deposit.
If the landlord plans to keep all or a portion of the deposit, they have to send the tenant a written statement of exactly why the deposit is being kept. Allowable deductions include unpaid rent or utilities, late fees, pet fees, cleaning costs, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and costs due to abandonment or breach of the lease.
Tenants can sue for three times the amount wrongfully withheld plus attorneys’ fees.
Similar to other states, Georgia does not have rent control laws, thus landlords are free to charge whatever rent they deem appropriate for their property. Furthermore, Georgia rental laws do not cover specific rules and regulations on rent payments, meaning landlords can set their own terms for collecting rent.
Georgia law also does not cover late fees or grace periods, so landlords may begin charging late fees immediately after the tenant fails to pay rent. However, late fees must be included in the written lease agreement.
Tenants should note that under no circumstances can they withhold rent in the state of Georgia.
Residential landlords in Georgia must keep the property in a safe and habitable condition, or risk breaching the local warrant of habitability. This means they must:
Georgia rental laws do not specify how long a landlord has to make repairs, but they are expected to make repairs in a “reasonable time” after receiving notice from the renter, which does not have to be in writing.
If repairs are not made in a timely manner, tenants can take legal action, or use the “repair and deduct” remedy. In this case, tenants should:
Tenants should note that they cannot use repair and deduct for common areas.
Georgia landlords have the right to enter their rental for reasons related to the rental agreement like inspections and repairs. Because their are no strict regulations around landlord’s right to access a rental, they can set their own terms and conditions in the lease.
Generally speaking, landlords should provide tenants with one to two days’ notice before entering the property unless it’s for an emergency.
If the landlord does not provide notice or enters at unreasonable times, such as in the middle of the night, the landlord may breach the lease.
However, landlords can enter the rental without notice in the case of an emergency.
Georgia state law allows landlords to move forward with the eviction process for several reasons. Some of the main reasons include:
If tenants stays beyond the end of the lease, the landlord must provide a 60-day notice to quit. If a tenant does not vacate a property within the specified eviction notice period, the landlord may file a lawsuit against them in a state or magistrate court. For all other eviction reasons, Georgia law does not specify how much time tenants must be given in the notice.
It is important to note that landlords in Georgia must follow specific procedures and comply with state law when evicting a tenant. This means that self-help evictions, which are the act of forcibly removing tenants or their belongings, are strictly prohibited.
In addition to regulations covering general issues such as repairs and security deposits, Georgia state law also covers topics such as renter discrimination laws and landlord retaliation. We’ll explore a few of these topics below.
Georgia landlords must adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Act and cannot discriminate against tenants based on protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (presence of children under 18 or pregnant women), and disability/handicap.
Like in most states, it’s illegal for landlords in Georgia to retaliate against tenants who use their legal rights to report a landlord for health and safety violations or other violations.
Retaliatory actions include raising rent, reducing services, or threatening to evict the tenant. Any such acts can have legal repercussions and penalties against the landlord.
Georgia rental laws require landlords to make the following mandatory disclosures:
Security deposit / move-in checklist: Landlords are required to give tenants a complete inventory of any existing damage to the rental unit before collecting a security deposit.
Understanding the nuances of landlord-tenant laws in Georgia is essential for fostering a harmonious relationship that’s as sweet as a peach. These comprehensive laws aim to safeguard the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.
By understanding and respecting these regulations, Georgia landlords can protect their investments, cultivate positive relationships with tenants, and create a successful rental business. At the same time, tenants can assert their rights and maintain a respectful living environment that they can call home.
Below, you’ll find a handful of resources covering Georgia’s state and city laws, ensuring you have the necessary tools to make informed decisions and comply with the specific regulations relevant to your location.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.
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