The Full Guide on Landlord Tenant Laws in Georgia [2023]

Learn Georgia landlord-tenant laws, rights, and responsibilities covering everything from rent and repairs to eviction and security deposits.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
August 8, 2023
The Full Guide on Landlord Tenant Laws in Georgia [2023]

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.

Ready to start? Let’s jump in!

Is Georgia considered a landlord-friendly state?

Yes, Georgia is widely considered a landlord-friendly state. Georgia law favors landlords in several ways, including:

  • No limits on the amount a landlord can collect for a security deposit
  • No limits on late fees
  • An informal eviction process that allows landlords to quickly resolve issues with unpaid rent
  • No rent control laws, giving landlords the freedom to set their own rental rates

However, it's important to note that laws can vary by city and that tenants still have ample rights in landlord-friendly states.

Georgia landlord responsibilities and rights

Rights

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:

  • Collecting on-time rent payments
  • Requesting a security deposit to cover property damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Pursuing an eviction in the case the tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement
  • Entering their rental property for certain reasons
  • Charging late fees for unpaid rent

Responsibilities

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:

  • Providing a habitable rental unit that meets their local warrant of habitability
  • Complying with security deposit limits and returns
  • Completing necessary repairs to the property in a timely manner
  • Disclosing certain information to tenants before they sign the lease agreement, such as lead based paint

Georgia tenants rights and responsibilities

Rights

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:

  • Living in a habitable property that meets local housing and health codes
  • Receive fair treatment from their landlord, including seeking housing without discrimination
  • Requesting repairs, and in certain cases, using the “repair and deduct” remedy
  • Living in a property without interference of their privacy or right to quiet enjoyment

Responsibilities

Renters in Georgia have their own set of duties to uphold in order to maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. These obligations include:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Keep the property in good condition, including small maintenance jobs when necessary
  • Maintain a quiet environment that doesn’t disturb other renters or neighbors
  • Not disturb neighbors or other tenants
  • Comply with the rental agreement

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.

Georgia landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle

Georgia rental application and tenant screening laws

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 lease agreement laws

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:

  • Removes or reduces the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property in good repair, including correcting damages caused by their failure to keep up the property.
  • Requires tenants to pay the landlord’s attorney fees if a landlord hires an attorney to enforce the lease agreement.
  • The landlord does not have to follow Georgia’a security deposit laws.
  • The landlord does not have to follow local rental laws.
  • The landlord can evict the tenant without going through a court-approved eviction process.

Discover what you should include in your lease agreement today.

Georgia security deposit laws

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:

  • Landlords do not have to provide a receipt for a security deposit.
  • Landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits.
  • Landlords must hold the security deposit in an escrow account or post a surety bond.

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.

Georgia rent laws

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.

Georgia repair and maintenance laws

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:

  • Maintain the building structure
  • Keep electric, heating, and plumbing in working order
  • Unless the lease states otherwise, the landlord is not liable for problems that were evident during the move-in inspection, unless the problems make the unit unsafe or unsanitary
  • Carpet cleaning

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:

  • Notify the landlord via written notice that they plan to use the "repair and deduct" remedy
  • Keep copies of maintenance receipts and ask the professional for a statement detailing the repairs
  • Subtract the repair costs from the following rent payment

Tenants should note that they cannot use repair and deduct for common areas.

Georgia notice of entry laws

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 eviction or lease termination laws

Georgia state law allows landlords to move forward with the eviction process for several reasons. Some of the main reasons include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Violation of lease terms
  • Intentionally damaging the rental unit
  • No lease/end of lease

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.

Additional Georgia rental laws

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 housing discrimination laws

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.

Retaliation laws

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.

Required disclosures in Georgia

Georgia rental laws require landlords to make the following mandatory disclosures:

  • Lead-based paint: Landlords with rentals built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
  • Flooding risk: Property owners must disclose if a house has flooded three or more times in the past five years.
  • Authorized authorities: Landlords must provide their names and addresses along with all parties involved in owning and managing the property.

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.

Summing up: Understanding landlord tenant laws in Georgia

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.

Georgia Landlord Tenant Resources

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.

  1. Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook: The Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook is a resource designed to answer common residential landlord-tenant questions and covers topics such as basic tenant rights, lease and rental agreements, and evictions.
  2. Georgia Legal Aid: This is legal aid that provides services to tenants in Georgia who are seeking legal solutions to problems with their landlords.
  3. The Georgia Fair Housing Act: This pamphlet breaks down the state’s regulations on discrimination and what acts are considered a form of discrimination.

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.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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