What Landlords Cannot Do in Georgia
In Georgia, landlords cannot:
Use retaliatory practices such as increasing rent or shutting off utilities when a tenant makes a rightful demand under the Georgia Code
Make tenants pay for repairs that they are not required to under the law
Limit the statutory rights of tenants by inserting illegal clauses in the rental agreements
Evict a tenant without following the court process
Withhold the security deposits without giving a valid reason
Discriminate against the “protected class”
Enter the property without giving proper notice (usually 24 hours)
With the assistance of an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer, tenants may challenge such actions if they believe the landlord is being unreasonable or acting illegally.
How Much Notice Does a Landlord Have to Give a Tenant to Move Out in Georgia?
Tenants with month-to-month rentals and tenancies-at-will must receive 60 days’ written notice from the landlord before moving out. Tenants who rent month-to-month or rent at will must give their landlord 30 days’ notice in writing, unless the lease says otherwise.
If the tenant breaches the agreement, such as refusing to pay rent, the landlord may not have to give 60 days’ notice. A tenant may also move out with less than 30 days’ notice. For example, if the landlord ignores major repairs that impact the tenant’s health and safety.
If there is a lease agreement, then the lease will expire on the date of termination mentioned in the agreement. However, a landlord may ask the tenant to move out before the said date for violations.
It is not uncommon for landlords and tenants to get into complex and unresolvable disputes. Often, they are unaware of their rights and responsibilities under the law, which leads them to take illegal actions. They may be able to seek help and guidance from an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer about what action to take.
What Is an Illegal Eviction?
In Georgia, landlords have to go through the court process and obtain a court order called a Writ of Possession in order to evict a tenant from the rental property. If a landlord tries to evict a tenant without a court order, it is considered an illegal eviction. It is illegal for a landlord to:
Remove a tenant’s items from the residence without following the proper legal procedures
Change a tenant’s unit locks
Turn off a tenant’s utilities
If you’ve been illegally evicted, you may be entitled to damages for your lost personal property, pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, and costs. If a court finds that a landlord purposefully disconnected a tenant’s utilities, the landlord may be assessed a fine of up to $500.
Eviction Defense: Know the Law for Tenants!
Landlords may evict tenants if they do not pay rent on time or violate their rental agreement. However, the eviction process should follow Georgia landlord-tenant laws. In Georgia, tenants may use the following legal defenses against property owners during an eviction:
Self-help evictions (shutting off utilities, barring access to the property) are illegal in Georgia.
Incorrect claims by the landlord regarding missed rent payments.
Housing discrimination is prohibited under the Federal Fair Housing Act and Georgia laws.
Five questions to consider if you’ve been served with an eviction notice.
If you have been served an eviction notice, you will need to consider the following:
Why are you being evicted?
Is the landlord’s reason true? Is there evidence to support it?
Did the landlord follow proper procedures?
Were you given notice and proper service?
What defenses can you raise? (Refusal of Rent, Retaliation, Prior Agreement)
If you have been served with an eviction notice, it is important to review the dispossessory affidavit quickly and respond within 7 days. In the answer, the tenant should write out any defenses to the eviction and write out any counterclaims that you may have (e.g. failure to repair, personal injuries, alternative housing expenses). It is important to be comprehensive in your response to preserve your claims.