Q & A: Navigating landlord tenant issues in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q1) Can I be evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Possibly. The CDC moratorium against evictions has been extended until January 31, 2021. If you submit a sworn statement to your landlord stating your inability to pay and meet certain guidelines, you may be protected from an eviction based on inability to pay. Landlords can still, however, evict tenants for other lease violations (i.e. violating community rules). It is also important to review the applicability of local eviction moratoriums (e.g. Atlanta eviction moratorium). Many courts in the Atlanta metro area have resumed eviction hearings in-person or virtually.
Q2) What can I do if my landlord refuses to make repairs that are affecting my safety and well-being?
A: Are you living with mold, mildew, rats, roaches, flooding, inoperable heating, and/or inoperable plumbing? In Georgia, landlords are required to keep premises “in good repair.” You may have claims for personal injury, personal property damages, and diminished rental value against your landlord. To preserve your claim, keep photos, videos, email communications with management, doctor visits, and receipts for repairs.
Q3) I’ve been served with an eviction, what should I do first?
A: Review the reasons listed on the dispossessory affidavit immediately and assess whether or not the landlord has proof of the alleged violations. Once you have reviewed the eviction, file your answer within 7 days of being served to avoid a default judgment. It is important to file a complete and thorough answer to protect your claims. If you file an incomplete answer, the court may prevent you from pursuing aspects of your case.
Q4) What happens if I do not respond to an eviction notice?
A: If a tenant fails to respond within 7 days, the landlord can ask the judge to sign a “writ of possession” or a document granting the landlord legal possession of the property. If an eviction is filed, the record of it will be available to prospective landlords. If there is a judgment, the landlord may send the debt to a collection’s agency or garnish your check to satisfy the judgment.
Q5) I recently received a collection’s notice related to an old eviction. What should I do?
A: If you have received a collection’s judgment from a landlord for property damage or unpaid charges, you should dispute the account immediately. If a tenant fails to dispute the debt timely, the agency can report the debt as valid for 7 years. Unpaid landlord debt may prevent you from being approved for a new apartment and decrease your credit score.
Q6) What can I do when my landlord fails to return my security deposit?
A: Landlords are required to keep security deposits in escrow accounts and return them within 30 days. If landlords do not comply with Georgia law, tenants can pursue the security deposit, attorney’s fees, and special damages.
Q7) How do I know if I have a case?
A: Edmonds Law Office is experienced in landlord tenant matters. Schedule a consultation here to discuss your specific case.
Q8) What’s included in a consultation?
A. During a consultation, Attorney Edmonds will discuss your case facts, assess your potential claims, and discuss possible resolutions. Our office has been successful:
- avoiding eviction filings (expedited legal services)
- defending against wrongful evictions
- pursuing monetary claims against your landlord
- removing inaccurate debts from credit reports
- having security deposits returned
- assisting tenants terminate leases and/or relocate to better conditions
- protecting credit history
Please note that these answers were crafted with the information made available on January 12, 2021. LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Any information provided in the Ask Angie blog is for informative purposes only. It does not form an attorney-client agreement. A signed attorney-client agreement is required to retain Edmonds Law Office of Civil Rights LLC.. #AskAngie #edmondslawoffice #landlordtenant #COVID19 #civilrightsattorney #georgialawyer