Georgia is fast growing into being a top destination state for relocating Americans. Variety is the spice of life and from its beautiful lakes and lush greenery to Atlanta’s thriving city life, Georgia has that spice. Tourism has been rising for the last decade, and visitors have increasingly discovered it’s a wonderful place to live permanent. With average rents climbing and vacancy rates declining, it is a great place to be a landlord. What’s more, Georgia landlord-tenant laws are generally landlord-friendly.
At a Glance:
Late Fees: No limits
Security Deposit: No limits
Returned Payment Fee Limit: Service charge of $30 or 5% of the face value of the check; whatever is larger.
Notice to Enter: 24 hour notice is highly recommended but there is no legal statute requiring this.
Even though there are no restrictions on the amount of a late fee that can be charged for late rent, what is chosen as a fee must be written into a lease. If it is not, then the landlord may not charge one.
Georgia has specific statutes regarding the handling of bad checks. In addition to a service charge of no more than $30 or 5%, whichever is greater, the landlord may also be entitled to any fees charged due to returned payment.
The charge for a security deposit is not limited by legal statutes, however the money received from the tenant must be put in an escrow account. The landlord must let the tenants know the name and location of the financial institution.
KEY POINT: A landlord is required to provide a tenant a thorough list of any existing damages before the tenant moves in. The tenant has the right to inspect the unit.
The landlord has three days after the tenancy ends to inspect the rental home and make a list of any damages found that could result in a deduction from the security deposit and an estimate of the cost. The tenant then has five days to inspect the premises.
The landlord must return to the tenant either the security deposit in full or a statement describing deductions along with any leftover amount. This must be done within thirty days after the tenant leaves.
IMPORTANT: These laws are applicable to owners and their family members who own a total of ten units or less unless they are managed by someone else or a company for a fee.
In Georgia there is a vague and basic requirement under § 44-7-13 for the landlord to keep the rental unit in repair.
Right of Entry:
There is no statute in place for notification before entrance. However, in the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook which is provided by the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs, it is a recommendation that 24 hours’ notice be given to the tenant unless there is an emergency.
Notice to End Lease:
When a lease is month to month, the landlord must provide the tenant with sixty days’ notice to end the lease whereas the tenant must provide the landlord thirty days. There are no written requirements in the law stating notice requirements for either week to week terms or fixed terms.
In Georgia, a tenant must adhere to the terms and conditions of the tenancy or lease including the obvious which is paying rent on time. If this does not happen, although it is not technically required to send written notice out, it is a good practice to do so. In Georgia law there is no specific notice periods except that of which is spelled out in a written lease if there is one. Once the tenant is aware and fails to correct or comply with the issue, the landlord may then go to the court and file what is called a “dispossessory warrant” which begins the process of having the offending tenant removed.
IMPORTANT: Removal of the tenant must go through a court ordered process. Never take things in your own hands!
Legal questions? Ask a Georgia Attorney!
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