There are a set of rules and obligations that landlords and tenants have to follow in Georgia. These rules are included and detailed in a lease agreement, which can be adjusted to the landlord's requirements (as long as they're compliant with the State of Georgia landlord tenant laws).
Georgia landlord-tenant law only covers the foundation of a lease agreement, which includes terms of the lease, rent payments, security deposits, and evictions. The rest of the clauses may be adjusted by the landlord in their rental agreement.
It's common to have some questions regarding lease agreements for landlords and tenants, which is why we're going to cover the Georgia landlord-tenant law so that you can have an idea of how they work and how you can benefit from them.
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Now, let’s dive in.
What Does a Rental Agreement in Georgia Have to Include?
There are two types of rental agreements: Written agreements and oral agreements. While both of them are valid, both landlords and tenants should go with the written agreement since it's physical proof of everything that was agreed upon.
Georgia landlord-tenant laws don't require the landlord to include any specific information other than the rental property description and the contact information of all the parties involved. However, most Georgia landlords tend to include detailed information in their lease documents to avoid issues.
Here's an overview of the most common clauses included by Georgia landlords in a lease:
- Duration of the lease.
- Rent payment clauses.
- Security deposits.
- Landlord's right to entry.
- Maintenance of the leased property.
- Subleasing clauses.
You can find more information about the conditions of a lease in the Georgia Code and the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook, a document created by the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
What Are the Responsibilities and Rights of a Landlord in Georgia?
According to the Georgia Code (Title 44, Chapter Seven), Georgia landlords must comply with local Georgia law guidelines if they want to rent their property to their tenant. If the landlord fails to meet these requirements, the tenant may seek legal advice.
Here's a list of the responsibilities that every landlord in the Georgia state has to follow:
- Provide a habitable rental unit.
- Comply with security deposit returns and limits.
- Follow Georgia law renting rules.
- Comply with the Anti-Discrimination laws.
When it comes to providing a habitable rental unit, it means that the landlord has to follow their local warranty of habitability. This explains that the property must always be in a safe and habitable condition. Tenants in Georgia are legally allowed to send a written notice if they need a significant repair.
In these cases, landlords must answer and provide help in a reasonable amount of time. If this doesn't happen, Georgia tenants can deduct the repairing costs from the next rent payment.
On the other hand, landlords have the legal right to collect rent payments and security deposits, as well as ensure that the lease terms are properly followed.
What Are the Responsibilities and Rights of a Tenant in Georgia?
According to Georgia landlord-tenant laws and the Federal Fair Housing Act, tenants have the legal right to proper housing, meaning that they must be able to live in a rental unit in good conditions. On the other hand, all tenants in Georgia have the legal right to receive fair treatment from their landlord. Read more about the Georgia Federal Fair Housing Act.
Tenant rights also allow them to ask for repairs if the damage exceeds normal wear and tear. If the landlord fails to provide these repairs in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant may seek legal advice and compensation for the damage.
To comply with Georgia landlord-tenant laws, the tenant must always follow these guidelines:
- Keep the property in clean conditions.
- Provide small repairs whenever necessary.
- Not disturb neighbors or other tenants.
- Pay rent on time.
- Comply with the rest of the lease terms.
What Are the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Clauses?
Now that you know all parties' rights and obligations, it's time to dig deeper into the general clauses that most lease documents in Georgia include. These legal clauses allow landlords and tenants to keep a better leasing relationship that complies with local and federal housing laws.
It's important to note that Georgia landlord-tenant laws don't mention any rent control laws. Local Georgia laws don't allow rent control in some areas, meaning that a landlord may charge any amount they consider appropriate for their rented apartment.
On the other hand, there are no specific requirements for late rent fees. However, most landlords include these late fees to make the tenant pay rent. While there are no minimum or maximum amounts for these fees, there are "Bounced check fees," which are vital to know of.
In these cases, bounced check fees are capped at $30 of 5% of the bounced check's full value.
Finally, landlords are not required to make written notice if they plan to increase rent. While some of them send a notice to their tenants, it's not a legal requirement.
Security Deposit Clauses
Landlord-tenant laws in Georgia don't specify any legal requirements for security deposits. However, most Georgia landlords ask for a security deposit to protect themselves against any unforeseen damages.
A landlord may hold the security deposit in an escrow account or a surety bond. If the landlord goes for the former, the escrow account must only be used for holding the security deposit. On the other hand, if the landlord decides to post a surety bond with the superior court, they have to go to the county where the rental unit is located.
A surety bond for a security deposit has to be equal to the amount of the security deposits currently held by the landlord. If the landlord is not running the rental unit through a corporation or owns less than 10 properties, they don't have to post a security deposit bond with the apartment's county court or place the security deposit in an escrow account.
Landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days' notice of the tenant moving out of the property. Additionally, landlords have to draft a list of any repairs needed by the property if the tenant decides to move out. The landlord may deduct part of the deposit in cases of abandonment of property, unpaid fees, etc.
A landlord may have to pay three times the security deposit amount if it isn't returned.
Termination and Eviction Clauses
Georgia tenants have to give the landlord a 30 days' notice if they're planning to move out of the property. However, if the landlord is the one who wants the tenant to move out, they have to make a 60 days' written notice of eviction.
Landlords in Georgia can file a notice of eviction for their tenant from their rental unit if the following conditions are met:
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Not abandoning the property after the lease ends.
- Breaching the lease terms.
- Damaging the rental unit intentionally.
If the landlord wants to evict their tenants, they must file a "demand for possession" eviction claim. If the tenant doesn't leave within the specified deadline, the landlord may file a lawsuit with a state or magistrate court. The tenant can prevent going to court if they leave within the specified eviction period.
See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Georgia.
If the tenant or the landlord wants to automatically renew the lease, they need to state that data in the rental terms.
Right to Fair Housing
Georgia state law promotes fair housing for all kinds of tenants and protects them from any type of discrimination from their landlord. That protection against discrimination includes the following criteria:
- Familial status
Right to Entry
According to Georgia laws, the landlord and tenant may set any notice terms that they consider appropriate for landlord entries; this includes conditions for access and days of notice. However, landlords may enter their property without any notice in cases of emergency.
Usually, this notice is sent in written form to avoid any issues between the tenant and landlord.
Georgia is considered a landlord-friendly state because it doesn't specify any limits regarding security deposits or fees that the landlord can charge the tenant. By following general guidelines and housing rules, both the landlord and tenant can ensure a much better living environment that benefits them.
Remember that if you have any pending questions, we suggest that you search for a lawyer or a real estate manager.
Does information about flooding need to be disclosed?
If the unit was flooded in the last five years, the landlord has to provide those details to the tenant, explaining the potential damages that the unit may suffer.
Does the landlord have to disclose information about lead paint?
If the unit was built before 1978, the landlord has to disclose any details regarding the lead-based paint in the unit. Read more about lead paint clauses.
How are authorized parties disclosed in the lease?
According to Georgia laws, the landlord has to disclose any data regarding the parties involved in the lease. If one of these parties ever changes, the tenant has to be notified with 30 days' notice.
Are the locks allowed to be changed on a property in Georgia?
A tenant may change the property's locks unless the landlord specifically told them not to in the lease document. If a tenant wants to change the locks, they may have to send a notice to their landlord some days before doing it.