Are you a landlord or a property manager in Northwest Georgia? If so, then you need to familiarize yourself with the Georgia landlord-tenant law. Found in the Code of Georgia, the law governs the rental of a commercial and residential property.
Once you have understood these laws properly, you should be able to deal with many legal problems without requiring a professional.
So, in this post, we are going to take a basic look of Georgia’s landlord-tenant laws.
1. Georgia Security Deposit Laws
If you are like most landlords, then you also require tenants to provide a security deposit prior to moving in. It’s usually the equivalent of one month’s rent. It helps cushion a landlord against property damage resulting from a tenant’s negligence or carelessness.
In Georgia, security deposit laws only affect those landlords that own rental units exceeding ten.
You are free to charge whatever amount you see reasonable for a security deposit. This is because Georgia doesn’t have a cap in this regard. The amount should, of course, be rational.
When it comes to storing a tenant’s deposit, the law gives you two options. The first option is to post the deposit as a surety bond. And the second option is to place it in an escrow account.
As with any other state, tenants in Georgia can also forfeit their security deposit in certain circumstances. These cases can include:
- Failure by the tenant to pay rent
- Failure by the tenant to settle their utility bills
- Excessive property damage by the tenant
- Any other cost that is due and which falls under the responsibility of the tenant
If the tenant has met all the requirements, then you must return their deposit within thirty days.
2. Small Claims Lawsuits in Georgia
Small claims court rules, including maximum amounts for which you can sue, vary by state. In Georgia, the maximum amount you are suing for should not exceed $15,000.
Georgia, unlike many states, permits landlords to file an eviction case for nonpayment of rent.
3. Georgia Rules for Landlord’s Entry
Tenants in Georgia have the right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes. Even as a landlord, you are not permitted to barge in on your tenant whenever you’d like. In other words, you cannot show up unannounced on your tenant’s door and expect to be let in.
To access the property, you must first notify your tenant. The notice must state the reason and date of entry. Some of the common reasons landlords enter tenant’s units are to make property repairs, inspect the property, or to show the property to prospective tenants.
It goes without saying that the timing should be reasonable. Ideally, it should be between 8.00AM and 5.00PM during weekdays, and 9.00AM and 3.00PM during weekends.
4. Rights of Tenants in Georgia
Tenants in Georgia, much like everywhere else, have the following rights:
- Landlord disclosures
- Fair housing
- Right to security deposit
- Right of active duty servicemen to terminate their lease early if the received change of station orders
5. Responsibilities of Tenants in Georgia
In Georgia, tenants have the following responsibilities:
- Maintain the property. It’s the responsibility of a tenant to keep the premises well maintained.
- Obey all terms of the lease or rental agreement.
- Allow the landlord access to the property when it becomes necessary.
6. Landlord Rights in Georgia
As a landlord, the Georgia landlord-tenant law gives you the following rights:
- Enforcement of leased terms
- Charge an application fee
- Require tenants to be insured before they can move in
- To remove improperly parked vehicles
- Declare a repeat visitor an unauthorized visitor
- Refuse tenant access to files kept on a rental unit
7. Landlord Legal Responsibilities in Georgia
Georgia landlords must follow specific state rules when it comes to renting to tenants. The law covers anything from when the security deposit should be returned to the questions to ask prospective tenants during a rental application.
The following are the top landlord legal responsibilities in the state of Georgia:
- Make certain disclosures to tenants prior to lease signing
- Prepare a lease agreement that is in line with the statewide landlord-tenant law
- Provide premises that meet the state health, building, and safety codes
- Adhere to Georgia security deposit laws
- Comply with the Fair Housing Act
- Follow state rent rules
- Follow the law when handling a tenant eviction
8. Georgia Fair Housing Rules
Just like in other states, landlords in Georgia must adhere to the provisions of the Fair Housing Act. According to the Act, it’s illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, religion, and sex.
The following are some examples of statements that may be viewed as discriminatory:
- Refusing to rent to an individual because they belong to a certain class of people
- Imposing different requirements to members of a particular group
- Steering tenants away to another property
- Using an advertisement that excludes members of a protected group
- Stating that a unit is unavailable when it is available
9. Required Landlord Disclosures in Georgia
Tenants have many rights. Under the statewide law, tenants have a right to habitable dwelling, quiet enjoyment of their home, proper use of their deposit, nondiscriminatory treatment from the landlord among others.
Landlords may not necessarily spell out these laws. That said, many states, including the state of Georgia, require landlords to make certain disclosures to renters. The following are some of the disclosures:
- The rights of domestic violence victims
- The person authorized to manage the premises
- Details on the security deposit
- The right of the tenant to be present during a move-out inspection
- Details on installation and maintenance of smoke alarms and detectors
- The smoking policy
- The presence of methamphetamine laboratory at the premises prior to the occupancy by the tenant
- The availability of fire protection
- Location of a former federal or state military ordinance in the neighborhood
This is simply an overview of the Georgia landlord-tenant laws. If you require additional help, please consider hiring professional help from a competent attorney in Northwest Georgia.