You are incredibly excited that you got your first rental property and your first tenant. Things were going well – until you didn’t receive your monthly rent payment. You cannot afford to allow your tenants to rent for free and you know you must do something to get your money. But, what? Where do you start? Who do you contact?
The eviction process varies from state to state – and Georgia law, though fairly streamlined, can have many underlying laws that need to be adhered to. Since the entire process can be incredibly overwhelming for a new landlord, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to get you started. Of course, you should always consult with a legal representative to protect both your rights – and those of your tenant.
First, you should know that the Code of Law that governs evictions in the State of Georgia is Title 44, Chapter 7, Article 3a. It states:
§ 44-7-50. Demand for possession; procedure upon a tenant's refusal; concurrent issuance of federal lease termination notice
(a) In all cases when a tenant holds possession of lands or tenements over and beyond the term for which they were rented or leased to such tenant or fails to pay the rent when it becomes due and in all cases when lands or tenements are held and occupied by any tenant at will or sufferance, whether under contract of rent or not, when the owner of such lands or tenements desires possession of such lands or tenements, such owner may, individually or by an agent, attorney in fact, or attorney at law, demand the possession of the property so rented, leased, held, or occupied. If the tenant refuses or fails to deliver possession when so demanded, the owner or the agent, attorney at law, or attorney in fact of such owner may immediately go before the judge of the superior court, the judge of the state court, or the clerk or deputy clerk of either court, or the judge or the clerk or deputy clerk of any other court with jurisdiction over the subject matter, or a magistrate in the district where the land lies and make an affidavit under oath to the facts. The affidavit may likewise be made before a notary public.
You have the right, after demand has been made for the money and sufficient time has passed (no specified amount of time in Georgia, but the good legal practice is at least 3 days), to go before the court and start eviction proceedings. Please note that the state of Georgia does not require written notice. This may be a verbal notice given to the tenant.
So, where do you go to initiate an eviction? In Georgia, landlord-tenant cases are handled in the Clerk’s Office located at the Civil Division of the State Court. Check with your local law enforcement as, depending on your county, some will also help you initiate the eviction process.
When you contact the court, you will file your affidavit stating the facts, demanding that the current tenant turn over possession to the property. The Judge will then issue a summons that is to be personally served with a copy of the filed affidavit. This will be sent to the Sheriff to complete. If there is any issue with serving, various other methods, such as posting or sending via first-class mail may potentially be options.
Your tenant will then have 7 business days to file an answer – or cure the deficiency.
If, however, within those 7 days your tenant fails to comply, the Judge will issue and sign a Writ of Possession that is directed to the local Sheriff. This writ gives the Sheriff the authority to remove the tenant and his/her possessions from the property and return possession to the landlord.
The laws concerning evictions affect both parties. While the process is rather simple and straightforward, it is best to seek proper legal advice before proceeding. A mere oversight in a tenant’s right could land you with bigger problems than you started with.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty and Atlanta Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Real Estate, Rental Property Management, Atlanta Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her Atlanta property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube,BiggerPockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.