Georgia Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Working plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities and smoke detectors. Air conditioning is optional, but if provided, must be kept in good repair (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs for items under their responsibility. They must do so within a “reasonable time” after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenant usually can’t withhold rent, but does have right to repair and deduct, report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. If a landlord is reported to a local city or county inspector for housing code violations, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate, such as by threatening eviction (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Georgia does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling TypeLandlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single familyYes
Multi-familyYes
Fraternities/Sororities/ClubsNot specifically addressed
RV parksNot specifically addressed
Mobile home parksOnly if land + mobile home is owned by same person.
CondosYes
Hotels/MotelsNot 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

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 IssueLandlord 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.AC is optional, must be in good repair if provided
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cookingNot addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).Yes
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 detectorsYes
Provide a mailbox.No
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances.No
Provide working carbon monoxide detector.Not addressed
Provide a working washer/dryer.No

Additionally, for multifamily properties, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas are clean and safe.

Making Repairs

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 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 in order to make necessary repairs.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. 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.
  2. Repair and deduct – tenants have the right to repair the issue themselves and deduct a reasonable amount for the repair from the following month’s rent.
  3. Lawsuit – tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues.
  4. 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

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, states that landlords who retaliate (within 3 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 made an attempt to notify the landlord of the issue for them to fix.

Retaliatory actions by the landlord include 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.

Sources

  • Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook – resource from the State of Georgia’s Consumer Protection Division on understanding the law governing landlord tenant issues, published in December 2017.
  • Georgia House Bill 346 – a copy of the official bill detailing the addition to Chapter 7, Title 44 of Georgia Landlord Tenant Law.