Under Georgia law, leases and rental agreements can be oral, written or even implied. According to Georgia law, GA Code Title 44 Chapter 7 both landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities. Landlords have the right to collect rental payments in a timely manner and the right to pursue eviction if the tenant is found to be found in violation of the rental agreement.
Tenants also have the right to pursue housing without discrimination and the right to a habitable dwelling, among other rights.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in Georgia
Georgia leases can either be written or oral and even be implied. Tenants and landlords have certain rights even when they are not included in a lease. Landlords are obligated to maintain the premises and keep them in good repair. However, Georgia tenants do not have the right to “alternative action” if landlords do not make requested repairs.
Local counties and municipalities in Georgia might have additional rights and responsibilities for landlords.
These standards apply to single and multi-family homes. They also can apply to mobile homes when the same person or group owns the home and property that the home is on.
Failing to make appropriate repairs in a “reasonable” timeframe can be grounds for the tenant to remnant the lease.
Tenant Responsibilities in Georgia
Tenants also have responsibilities in Georgia. In Georgia, tenants must:
- Keep their living space clean and free from hazards.
- Abide by cleanliness standards set by the landlord.
- Not unreasonably disturb neighbors.
- Keep dwelling fixtures clean and in repair.
Failure to honor a written request to clean may result in charges against the security deposit or eviction.
Evictions in Georgia
Georgia landlords can start the eviction process after providing a reason for eviction. Landlords can evict for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – Georgia landlords can provide a Notice to Pay to a non-paying tenant. If the tenant cannot pay within the next day, the landlord can start an eviction.
- Violation of lease terms – Georgia landlords can request that tenants immediately remedy lease provision violations. There is no timeframe mandated by law, so Georgia landlords can start eviction proceedings immediately.
- Illegal acts – Georgia landlords are entitled to evict tenants for engaging in illegal behaviors. This eviction follows normal procedures and can proceed in just 24 hours.
Evictions without a lease – tenants who are renting on a month-to-month basis without a contract are entitled to a 60-day notice if their landlord wants to evict them. Tenants who fail to leave after the 60-day notice will be subject to legal eviction.
Landlords are not allowed to evict for discriminatory reasons against a protected class. Landlords also cannot evict as retaliation for reporting health or safety code violations
Security Deposits in Georgia
- Standard limit/maximum amount – None.
- Interest and maintenance – Landlords may post a surety bond equal to the value of the deposit in the county where the property exists.
- Time limit for return – Landlords must return any security deposit owed within 30-days after a unit is reclaimed. Landlords must provide a written explanation of any deductions.
- Penalty if not returned on time – Landlords may be liable for three times the original deposit’s value.
- Allowable deductions – Georgia landlords can make deductions for:
- Failure to pay rent
- Abandonment of property
- Nonpayment of utilities
- Unpaid pet fees
- Third-party cleaning fees
Lease Termination in Georgia
Landlords and tenants in Georgia have different notice requirements. Landlords must always give 60-days’ notice to terminate any lease.
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Tenants, on the other hand, only need to provide 30 days’ notice in both cases.
Early termination: Tenants can legally terminate a lease early for the following reasons:
- Active military duty
- Unit is uninhabitable
- Landlord harassment
- Domestic violence
- Prior early termination lease clause
Tenants may still be liable for paying the remainder of their lease after legally breaking it. Georgia landlords are not mandated to fill vacant rental spots in a timely and reasonable manner.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Georgia
- Rent control. Georgia has virtual no rent control policies, and local laws actually prohibit rent control in many places. As such, landlords can charge whatever they want.
- Rental increases. Georgia landlords can raise the rent for whatever reason they want whenever they want without prior notice.
- Related fees. There are no limits to what late fees landlords can charge. However, returned checks fees are capped at $30 of 5% the check’s value.
Housing Discrimination in Georgia
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters due to their membership in a protected class. These rules do not apply to all landlords, such as owner-occupied homes or houses operated by religious organizations.
Georgia does not have any additional protections for groups not covered in the Fair Housing Act. However, the state’s Department of Community Affairs provides some protections for non-statutorily protected individuals on a case-by-case basis.
Discriminatory acts. Acts considered discriminatory when directed against a protected group include:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing on a bona fide offer
- Lying about unit availability
- Offering differing lease terms or privileges
- Threatening or intimidating tenants
- Refusing to accept “reasonable” accommodations
- “Steering” tenants into specific neighborhoods.
There are no codified legal penalties for discrimination in Georgia housing.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Georgia
Landlord right to entry in Georgia
Landlords and tenants are free to set entry justification and notification terms in individual leases. Landlords are generally assumed to have the right to entry in emergencies.
Small claims court in Georgia
Georgia’s small claims court can handle tenant-landlord disputes up to $15,000. There does not seem to be a defined statute of limitations.
Mandatory disclosures in Georgia
Georgia law requires that landlords disclose the following information:
- Lead-based paint – Houses built before 1978 must disclose concentrations of lead paint used.
- Authorized authorities – Landlords must provide names and addresses of any and all property owners or managers. If any of these people change, tenants must be notified in writing within 30 days.
- Flooding risk – Landlords must disclose if a house has flooded 3 or more times in the past 5 years.
Changing locks in Georgia
Tenants are technically free to change their own locks unless their lease states otherwise. Landlords, however, cannot unilaterally change locks as they are prohibited from “lockouts.”
Georgia Landlord-Tenant Resources
Please check local county and municipality laws for additional rules and protections for both landlords and tenants.
Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook – This handbook is written by the Department of Community Affairs and provides general guidance for both tenants and landlords.
Georgia Legal Aid – This is a tenant-oriented legal aid for Georgia renters that are looking for legal solutions to landlord misbehavior.
The Georgia Fair Housing Act – This pamphlet breaks down the state’s rules on discrimination and what actions are considered discrimination.