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Georgia Landlord Tenant Law



For the most part, the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant are set out in the lease. Most states have also enacted laws that establish certain rights and responsibilities, which even if not mentioned in the lease, are still legally enforceable.

The Lease

A lease is a legally enforceable agreement between a landlord and a tenant setting out what each side has to do (or not do), the amount of the rent and when it is due, the term of the lease (year- to-year or month-to-month), and other items.

{If you are in the military,} your lease should contain a military clause. A military clause permits you to get out of your lease any time you receive PCS orders or will be TDY for over three months. The maximum rent you will be liable for is 30 days worth. Even if your lease has no military clause, the protections it provides are statutory in Georgia.

Before you provide the security deposit, the landlord must present you with a list of existing damage to the premises. You must be given an opportunity to inspect the premises yourself to ensure the accuracy of the list and any disagreements should be resolved before producing the security deposit or signing the lease.

Most problems between a landlord and a tenant can be avoided if both sides know what the lease says. Therefore, make sure that you have fully read and understand all of the language in your lease BEFORE you sign it. If you have questions, take your lease ...{to a lawyer}.


An eviction (called a dispossessory proceeding in Georgia) is a legal proceeding used by landlords to get a tenant out of their premises.

There are several conditions under which a landlord can initiate an eviction proceeding, the most common being failure to pay rent. Before a landlord can evict, he must make a written demand that full rent is due by a specific date. If you fail to pay by the specified date, eviction proceedings can be initiated.

Generally speaking, your landlord must give you 30 days to vacate. If you do not leave by 30 days, the landlord can begin an eviction proceeding.

If the landlord claims that you have violated a term of the lease, he or she must inform you in writing of the supposed violation and give you a reasonable time to correct the problem. If you make no good faith effort to correct the problem, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings.

What if you end up in court?

The first thing to realize is that going to court gets expensive quickly. It is always best to attempt resolution before ending up in a courtroom. However, sometimes, the only way to solve disputes is through the legal system.

To aid you in the court process, here are some tips:

** All parties should come to court ready to tell their stories to the judge.

** Eyewitnesses can help your case.

** When presenting documents to the court, use originals or good quality copies. You should keep copies of cancelled checks and money orders and document cash transactions with receipts.

What if the court orders you evicted?

You can postpone eviction if you can show a good reason. The court will consider your specific hardships, such as young children or sick or elderly family members. If hardships become extreme, you may be able to file for an extension of time to vacate the premises with the court. But if the court denies the extension, make preparations to move immediately so that your possessions do not end up in the street.

Repairing Rental Property

Landlords have a responsibility to repair rented premises. They have a duty to keep common areas in good repair. Their duty to repair rented premises arises only after the tenant has notified the landlord of the defect. If the landlord fails to address the situation within a reasonable time after notice, he has breached his duty to repair.

If the landlord fails to repair, the tenant cannot withhold payment of rent. However, the tenant can repair the premises himself and recover his reasonable expenses from the landlord by presenting the landlord with the repair receipts and a check for the difference between rent due and the receipts. However, be careful if choosing this method. A tenant should notify his landlord of his intention to repair and deduct and carefully document his expenses. A tenant in this situation must also make only reasonable repairs. The landlord has a right to challenge the reasonableness of a repair or its cost.

Another method available to tenants includes suing for damages caused by the failure to repair. Such claims can be brought in small claims or regular court. Consultation with an attorney before taking such action is recommended.

Ending Your Lease

Your lease should set forth the process for termination. Typically, a lease will require 30 days notice before termination. If the lease is a year-to-year, there may be a penalty (unless you are breaking the lease due to a PCS or an extended TDY, in which case, the military clause applies). If the lease is month-to-month or at-will, there would be no penalty.

Any security deposit must be returned within one month from the date you vacate the premises. If any portion of the security deposit is going to be withheld by the landlord, written notification and explanation must be provided to you within one month along with any portion of the security deposit the landlord does not intend to keep. If one month has passed and no money or notice has been received, you may be entitled to damages.

It is recommended that a vacating tenant perform an inspection within five days of vacating the premises to defend against any claims for damage made by the landlord.


The preceding discussion is only a brief overview. There are many exceptions and unique aspects of this area of the law, and each state deals with these issues somewhat differently. As with all areas covered in this publication, contact the base Legal Office with any questions....

Source: Georgia Tenant-Landlord Law pamphlet, February 2000, 347 WG/JA, Moody AFB, GA. The above resource is intended merely as general information. Individuals with legal problems should seek the help of a licensed attorney, competent to practice in that area of law.

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