In Georgia, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by O.C.G.A § 44-7-13. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Landlord Responsibilities in Georgia
The implied warranty of habitability in Georgia does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Only if land and mobile home are owned by same person.|
|Hotels/Motels||Not specifically addressed|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
Landlord Responsibilities in Georgia
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Georgia, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Not addressed|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Heat|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Not addressed|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Not addressed|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Not addressed|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Not addressed|
Additionally, for multifamily properties, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas are clean and safe.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Georgia
For all residential properties, landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant.
If a tenant request repairs, they must put their request in writing immediately to the landlord. Beyond that, Georgia law does not dictate any specifics for the process of requesting repairs, only that they’re made in a time frame deemed “reasonable”.
Tenants must give permission to the landlord to access the property to make necessary repairs.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Georgia
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Georgia landlord tenant law does not outright state that a tenant in Georgia has the ability to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants have the right to repair the issue themselves after a reasonable amount of time (determined by the seriousness of the condition and the type of repair) has passed after giving written notice to the landlord. The tenant may only hire a qualified and licensed professional to make the repair and may subtract the repair costs from the following month’s rent. It is important to note that a tenant may not repair and deduct from any common area.
- Lawsuit – Tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in Georgia
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining about habitability issues to the landlord or governmental entity.
- Filing a complaint to a government authority.
- Joining a tenant’s union or organization.
Retaliation by a landlord against a tenant for notifying a public official about code violations that affect habitability is now illegal. As of July 2019, the Georgia Landlord Retaliation law states that landlords who retaliate (within three months) against a tenant’s actions, if found guilty, must pay the tenant the sum of one month’s rent, $500 and any legal fees.
For the law to be applicable, the tenant must have first tried to notify the landlord of the unsafe or illegal issue for them to fix. If the issue is not fixed, the tenant may file a complaint regarding the safety and health of their living conditions and landlords must not retaliate against the tenant by trying to remove or evict the tenant from the property, decreasing services to the tenant, increasing the tenant’s rent, terminating the tenant’s lease or interfering with other rights given to the tenant under the lease.