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Georgia Rental Laws

Original article posted on Landlordology, by Cozy.

This article summarizes some key Georgia Rental Laws as applicable to Landlord-Tenant laws regarding residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing and you have a responsibility to perform your own research when applying the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney-referral service that is operated by the state bar association.

Official Rules, Regulations & Guides

Security Deposit+

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
  • Allowable Deductions: Landlord is allowed to deduct from the security deposit: (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
    • for nonpayment of rent or of fees for late payment
    • for abandonment of the premises
    • for nonpayment of utility charges
    • for repair work or cleaning contracted for by the tenant with third parties
    • for unpaid pet fees
    • or for actual damages caused by the tenant’s breach, provided the landlord attempts to mitigate the actual damages.
  • Security Deposit Interest: The landlord does not have to place the deposit in an interest-bearing account nor does the landlord have to pay interest to the tenant. (handbook)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Landlord is required to place the security deposit in an escrow account and to notify the tenants in writing of the location of the escrow account. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-31) This is not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Nonrefundable Fees: Allowed, but they must not be part of the security deposit. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-30)
  • Application Fees: Allowed (handbook, p.11). 
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: Allowed (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-30)
  • Require Written/Signed Move-In Checklist: If owner and family own ten or fewer rental units, prior to collecting a security deposit, the owner shall give the tenant a comprehensive list of any existing damage to the premises. The tenant shall have the right to inspect the premises to confirm the accuracy of the list prior to taking occupancy. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-33). This is not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Require Itemized List of Move-Out Damages and Charges: Within three business days after the date of the termination of occupancy, the landlord shall inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive list of any damage done to the premises which is the basis for any charge against the security deposit, along with the estimated dollar value of such damage. The tenant shall have the right to inspect the premises within five business days after the termination of the occupancy in order to ascertain the accuracy of the list. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-33) This is not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Failure to Comply: The landlord forfeits any right to withhold a deposit if the money was not originally deposited in an escrow account, or if landlord did not provide move-in/move-out inspection lists. Any landlord who intentionally and wrongfully withholds a deposit may be liable for 3x the amount withheld plus attorney’s fees. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-35)

Lease, Rent & Fees+

  • When Rent Is Due: No Statute
  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Rent Grace Period: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute
  • No Limit on Rent Amount: No county or municipal corporation may enact, maintain, or enforce any ordinance to regulate the amount of rent to be charged for privately owned, single-family or multiple-unit residential rental property. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-19)
  • Returned Check Fees: Yes, but the fee is not to exceed $30 or 5 percent of the face amount of the instrument, whichever is greater, plus the amount of any fees charged to the holder of the instrument by a bank or financial institution. (O.C.G.A. § 13-6-15).
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No Statute
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (handbook)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages Caused by Leasee: Yes, but there is no statute that requires the Landlord to look for a new tenant. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
  • Abandonment of Personal Property: Landlord can remove the tenants’ abandoned personal property with a formal writ of possession (court order). (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-55)
  • Termination of a Service Member:
    • Specific Rules: A landlord must follow a specific process for terminating the lease of an active duty member of the regular or reserve component 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. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-22)
    • Limited Liability: Any liability of the Service Member for rent under the lease may not exceed 30 days’ rent after written notice and proof of the assignment are given to the landlord; and the cost of repairing damage to the premises caused by an act or omission of the tenant.(O.C.G.A. § 44-7-37)

Notices & Entry+

  • Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at Will (a Lease with No End Date): 60 days’ notice from the landlord, or 30 days’ notice from the tenant. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No Statute. Typically no notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease:  60 days’ notice from the landlord, or 30 days’ notice from the tenant. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: No Statute
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination of All Leases for Nonpayment: Immediate lease termination. Landlord can also file for eviction immediately (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-50), however tenant has seven days to pay to avoid eviction. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-52)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: No Statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: No Statute, but 24 hours is recommended (handbook, p. 13)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (nonemergency): Yes, but landlord must provide prior notice – 24 hours is recommended. (handbook, p. 13)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes, but landlord must provide prior notice – 24 hours is recommended (handbook, p. 13)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (handbook, p. 13)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (handbook, p. 55)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. Landlord is not allowed to discontinue heat, electricity or water service, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14.1

Disclosures & Miscellaneous Notes+

  • Special Tenant Rights & Restrictions: Without permission, a tenant may not cut or destroy growing trees, remove permanent fixtures, or otherwise injure the property. A tenant may use dead or fallen timber for firewood and the pasturage for his cattle. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-11)
  • Landlord Responsibility & Liability:
    • The landlord must keep the premises in repair. He shall be liable for all substantial improvements placed upon the premises by his consent. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-13)
    • Having fully parted with possession and the right of possession, the landlord is not responsible to third persons for damages resulting from the negligence or illegal use of the premises by the tenant; provided, however, the landlord is responsible for damages arising from defective construction or for damages arising from the failure to keep the premises in repair. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14)
  • Name and Addresses: At or before the commencement of a tenancy, and 30 days after any change, the landlord shall disclose to the tenant in writing the names and addresses of the following persons:
    • The owner of record of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purposes of serving of process and receiving and receipting for demands and notice; and
    • The person authorized to manage the premises.
  • Destruction of Dwelling: The destruction of a dwelling by fire or the loss of possession by any casualty not caused by the landlord does not release the tenant from the obligation to pay rent. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-15)
  • Flooding Disclosure: If any portion of the living space covered by the lease has flooded three times in the last five years, landlord must disclose this to the applicant before signing a lease. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-20)
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No Statute
  • Retaliation: No Statute

Court & Legal Related+

Business Licenses+

Business License Required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

Helpful Links+

I found this article on an amazing site for landlords (http://www.landlordology.com/), and even though I don’t usually do this, I wanted to share it with everyone who stops by our site as well. So, I would like to give proper attribution to Mr. Lucas Hall for researching and writing this amazing content. Thank you for putting this together.

Article (with links) copied from: http://www.landlordology.com by Cozy
Written by Lucas Hall on March 7, 2014 
Original article: http://www.landlordology.com/georgia-landlord-tenant-laws/

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