What are a few things that landlords must know when owning rental property in Georgia? While it’s always best to read the laws yourself and get familiar with your state’s Landlord-Tenant Handbook, read on to understand the most important points of Georgia real estate law below.
In Georgia, landlords must disclose the name of the owner of the property and any authorized agents they may have to their tenants. They also should tell the tenants if there is any change in the name or address of these people within 30 days of the change.
Landlords also must disclose where the tenant’s security deposit is being held, whether there was a death on the premises, and if there was flooding in the unit previously. Also, if you own more than ten rental units in Georgia, you must provide a move-in checklist that gives tenants a list of any existing damages to the property before you can collect your new tenant’s security deposit. Also, the tenant can inspect the property prior to paying their deposit to make sure that it’s comprehensive and accurate. At the end of the lease, the landlord will walk through the property again and take account of any new damages, at which point they will decide whether to withhold parts of the deposit.
It’s important that you as a landlord comply with all the listed disclosures. It’s your job to keep your tenants fully informed on the details of the unit before they make the decision to live there.
Rent and Fees
In Georgia, there is no specified rule for application fees. Also, rent control is banned—there are to be no laws that dictate the amount of rent that a landlord can charge for a single- or multi-family rental.
Georgia also has a bounced check fee maximum, in which the landlord can charge a fee of $30 or 5% of the check amount (whichever ends up being greater), plus the cost of any additional fees that you were charged for cashing a bounced check.
Another important law that landlords should pay attention to is called “repair and deduct”: if a landlord refuses to make a repair within a reasonable amount of time, tenants can hire a contractor or professional to make the repair, then they can deduct whatever that person charged from their rent amount. However, in order to do so, tenants must first notify their landlord in writing prior to hiring this professional, and they must keep copies of evidence like receipts to prove that the amount they deduct is correct.
Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a landlord when it comes to evictions is crucial, since any discriminatory practice or violation of the law could mean Fair Housing Act lawyers need to get involved, and you could face a costly legal battle.
According to Georgia laws on eviction, landlords can issue a pay-or-quit notice the day after the rental due date you set, and there is no codified wait period before you can file an eviction lawsuit. Also, for evictions that are not related to nonpayment, there aren’t any specified laws. This means that you can file for eviction as soon as you need to.
However, for non-renewals that are not eviction related (maybe you need to do a lengthy renovation, etc.), you need to give that tenant at least 60-days’ notice.
Also, military members in Georgia have special protections as tenants, like postponing court proceedings, being granted rent relief, or being able to terminate their lease early without penalty when fulfilling service requirements. If you are housing a tenant who is an active military member, be sure to read up on what their rights are as it pertains to this Georgia-specific law before considering eviction.
Georgia security deposit law does not specify a deposit limit, and landlords aren’t required to pay any interest on the security deposits they collect. They are, however, required to return their tenant’s security deposit before 30 days have passed since move-out, and disclose where their tenant’s security deposit will be during their tenancy.
Other Laws and Facts
Some other things that may be helpful to know as a landlord renting to tenants in Georgia is that in the state generally, the median rent rate is $1,999, while Atlanta’s median is $2,260. Consider these numbers and the rates of other units in your neighborhood before settling on a number to charge for your own property.
Georgia landlord tenant laws may seem easy to follow, but make sure that you are reading these laws carefully and taking them into account as you run your business day-to-day, since it’s the fairest thing for you and your tenants to do so.