Outline of Tenant Rights in Georgia
Georgia is a unique state when it comes to landlord/tenant laws. There are many areas that are not governed by statutes whatsoever. Late fees, grace periods, and the maximum amount of a security deposit are just a few examples of this. There are certain tenant rights that are outlined by statute, however, so here is an overview of what to expect during the rental process.
1. Tenants Have a Right To Inspect.
Landlords that do not provide a tenant with an initial checklist to review the condition of the home forfeit their right to withhold anything from the security deposit. Landlords must also place the money into an escrow account immediately. A failure to do so places the landlord at risk of being liable for up to 3x the security deposit amount. The one exception to this rule is an owner acting as their own landlord with 10 or fewer rental units in their possession.
2. Nonrefundable Fees Are Permitted.
Landlords are able to charge specific fees for the application and move-out process. These fees cannot be covered by the security deposit, however, so must be charged to the tenant separately and must be outlined in full at the time of the lease signing.
3. The Right To Inspect After Move-Out.
Landlords are required to inspect the property in a timely manner after move-out and create a list of damages within 3 business days after an occupancy has ended. Tenants then have the right to inspect the property within 5 business days after occupancy to verify the times on the list are correct. Landlords with 10 or fewer properties are exempt for this as well.
4. The Right To Have Costs Mitigated When a Lease Is Broken.
Landlords are required under Georgia law to do their best to limit the costs to a tenant who breaks their lease unexpectedly. Unlike other states, however, Georgia does not require landlords to find a new tenant.
5. A 7 Day Right To Pay The Rent.
Landlords are able to immediately file for an eviction if rent is not paid on time. Tenants have 7 days to pay their rent in order to avoid an eviction.
6. The Right To Quiet Enjoyment.
Landlords must give tenants prior notice for entry to a rental unit for repairs or maintenance work that is not considered an emergency. Although no actual time period is required, a 24 hour notice is recommended. The same applies to rental units that are up for sale. Emergency repairs require no notice for entry. There is no law governing whether or not repairs or maintenance work can be done by the tenant and the cost withheld from rent.
7. Tenants Can End An At-Will Tenancy With a 30 Day Notice.
When there isn't a termination date on a rental agreement, then tenants are allowed to break that lease provided they give the landlord a 30 day notice which states their intentions. Landlords are also able to end this type of tenancy, but they are required to give a tenant 60 days. Not providing enough time may invalidate the landlord's notice.
8. The Right To Know About Lead Hazards And Flooding.
If any part of a living space has been flooded at least 3x in the last 5 years, then landlords must disclose this fact to tenants before having a lease signed. There must also be an attachment to the lease which discloses any potential lead hazards which may be in the home.
9. Rent Must Be Continually Paid.
If a rental unit is destroyed by any means that is not caused by the landlord, then there is an obligation on the tenant's part to continue paying the rent that is due every month. Even the loss of possession by any casualty that falls outside of the landlord's control does not release a tenant from their lease obligations. Landlords are responsible, however, for keeping a premises in repair and is liable for damages that occur from defective construction or issues that arise from a failure to keep a premises in good repair.
10. Full Disclosure Of Agents Must Be Made.
Within 30 days after any change or at the beginning of a tenancy, tenants have the right to know the owner of record for their rental unit and/or the person or agency who is authorized to manage the unit on their behalf. This outline of tenant rights in Georgia does not cover all situations that may happen. If you have a specific question about your situation that has not been covered here, then it is best to seek legal assistance. Landlord/tenant laws are always subject to change, so make sure to perform your due diligence to make sure all tenant rights have been appropriately met.
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