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What You Need to Know About the Landlord Anti-Retaliation Statute

Last year Georgia passed a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against tenants who assert their rights, but who's enforcing it?

H.B. 346 became effective in July 2019. It prohibits landlords from retaliating against tenants with evictions, rent increases, and amenity reductions IF the tenant has complained about poor living conditions in good faith.

“The bill provides tenants with a three-month period of protection from retaliation, as long as no other basis for eviction exists.

If, for example, a tenant's lease was expiring in March 2020 and he or she initiated a complaint in January 2020, that tenant would not get the benefit of the three-month term because the anti-retaliation provision would not extend the original lease term.

What does this mean for tenants?

First, it's illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for seeking habitable living conditions (i.e. complaining to Code Enforcement). If a tenant complains, he or she would have a three month window of protection, assuming the lease term had three months remaining. If a landlord wanted to evict a tenant within that three-month time frame, he or she would have to prove a non-retaliatory motive (i.e. a non-discriminatory reason that would explain the eviction e.g. foreclosure)

To enforce your rights, document your poor living conditions. Keep photos and videos in a secure location, and back up your data if possible. Also, keep written confirmations (i.e. texts, emails, or maintenance requests via portal) of your complaints to your landlord and to the government entity you complained to. Lastly, consider the timing of your complaint, as compared to the potential drawbacks. Remember, the anti-retaliation law doesn't extend your lease. #tenantrights #housingconditions #HB346

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