Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Georgia can take around one to three months, depending on the type of eviction and whether tenants file an answer. If an appeal is filed, the process will take longer (read more).
Background. Under Georgia law, a landlord may evict a tenant for several of reasons. Eviction lawsuits in Georgia are also called dispossessory proceedings. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Georgia
Step 1: Notice is Posted
The notice, also known as “notice to quit” begins the eviction process. This informs the tenant to either fix the problem (if there is an opportunity to do so) or to permanently vacate the premises. The notice should contain the following information:
- The tenant’s full name and address of the rental unit.
- The date the eviction notice was served to the renter.
- The reason for the eviction notice.
- The total amount of overdue rent.
- The specific period amount of time the tenant must pay rent or eviction proceedings will commence.
- A statement indicating how the eviction notice was served to the renter.
Grounds for Eviction
Landlords in Georgia can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, landlords must provide either written or verbal notice that the tenant may be evicted.
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement (including illegal activity), the landlord must give the tenant oral or written notice that the tenant may be evicted.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given.
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
- Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when moving in, doesn’t have a lease/verbal agreement, and has never paid rent, they may be considered “intruders” under Georgia law and landlords would follow the procedure to remove intruders instead of the eviction process below. (read more).
Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.
According to Georgia law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease/rental agreement.
Once rent is past due, the landlord must provide verbal or written notice to the tenant prior to beginning an eviction action. Georgia law doesn’t specify how much time tenants must be given in the notice.
If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Georgia if they do not uphold their responsibilities and obligations under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.
Georgia landlords are not required to allow tenants to correct a lease violation in these instances, but they must provide tenants with a written or verbal notice prior to beginning an eviction action.
Typical lease violations under this category include damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.
Note that illegal activity is included in this category, including prostitution in the rental unit and other criminal acts.
How much time tenants must be given in the notice is not specified at the state level; however, if the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Georgia, if tenants “holdover,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.
Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.
Regardless of the length or type of tenancy, landlords are required to give all “at-will” tenants at least 60 days’ notice prior to beginning an eviction action.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served
As the next step in the eviction process, Georgia landlords must file a dispossessory affidavit or warrant in the appropriate court. In the state of Georgia, the filing fees range from $60-$75.
A judge, clerk, deputy clerk of the magistrate court may issue the summons and affidavit. These documents must be served on the tenant by the Sheriff or process server; prior to the hearing through one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence with an adult who lives there; or
- After reasonable effort, it may be served by posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit AND mailing a copy via first class mail.
Tenants who are being evicted for nonpayment of rent will have 7 days after the date they received the summons to pay all past-due rent in full in order to avoid eviction.
A few days to a few weeks. Georgia law doesn’t state how quickly the summons must be served on the tenant once the affidavit is filed with the court.
Step 3: Answer is Filed
Tenants in Georgia must respond to the summons and affidavit either in writing or verbally within seven days of the date summons was issued. If a tenant gives a verbal response, it must be written down on a copy of the affidavit.
If the tenant does not respond to the affidavit, the court will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, and the tenant will not be allowed to go to a court hearing.
If the tenant does answer the affidavit, the court will schedule a hearing and the tenant will be allowed to explain why they feel they should not be evicted.
7 days. Tenants have seven days after the date the summons is issued to file a written answer or give a verbal response to the affidavit.
Step 4: Court Hearing and Judgment
Georgia law doesn’t specify how soon an eviction hearing must be held after an affidavit is filed with the court or after a tenant’s response is received by the court. It will depend on how busy the trial court’s hearing schedule is.
If the tenant does not appear for the hearing, or does not respond to the complaint, the court will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord and the tenant will be required to move out.
If the judicial officer rules in favor of the landlord at the eviction hearing, a writ of possession will be issued, and the eviction will proceed.
Tenants have 7 days to appeal the judgment in order to avoid eviction.
A few days to a few weeks, depending on the court’s schedule and whether the ruling is appealed.
Step 5: Writ of Possession Is Issued
The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and allows them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the property to forcibly remove them.
If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, the landlord will ask the court to issue a writ of possession. The writ will be issued seven days after the judgment in favor of the landlord.
If the tenant remains in the rental unit after the writ is issued, possession of the rental unit will be forcibly returned to the landlord.
7 days. The writ of possession will be issued seven days after the judgment in favor of the landlord.
Step 6: Possession of Property is Returned
Georgia law doesn’t state how quickly a sheriff or constable is required to act on a writ of possession once it has been received from the court. It could take officers a few days to a few weeks to remove the tenant depending on how many other evictions are already scheduled.
A Few Days to a Few Weeks. Depending on how quickly law enforcement officers execute the writ.
Georgia Eviction Process Timeline
Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Georgia. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.
- Initial Notice Period – 60 days for “at-will” tenants; not specified for any other eviction types.
- Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – A few days to a few weeks, depending on the service method.
- Answer is Filed – 7 days after the summons is issued.
- Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – A few days to a few weeks; longer if an appeal is filed.
- Issuance of Writ of Possession – 7 days after the judgment is issued in favor of the landlord.
- Return of Possession – A few days to a few weeks, depending on how quickly the writ is executed.
Tenant’s Defenses Against Eviction Lawsuit. A tenant may be eligible to recover damages including rent, actual damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees in the following situations:
- The landlord shuts off any essential services such as electricity, water, etc.
- The landlord changes the locks.
- The landlord discriminates against the tenant based on religion, race, sexual orientation, disability, family status, gender, etc.
- If a tenant gives notice to a landlord or government agency asking for a necessary repair on the premises and the landlord does not comply this is considered a retaliation.
- If the tenant joins a tenant organization and the landlord files an eviction case within three months of joining.
Flowchart of Georgia Eviction Process