Georgia Landlord Tenant Laws

This is a summary of Georgia Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Georgia Code and various online sources to serve as a reference for people wanting to learn about Georgia landlord-tenant laws, Georgia eviction laws, and Georgia renters’ rights. 

However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.  If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.

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Rules and Regulations Governing Georgia Landlord-Tenant Laws

Georgia Lease Terms Provisions

Georgia Security Deposit Laws

  • What is the maximum allowable security deposit?

There is no Georgia law limiting security deposits.

  • Are security deposits required to earn interest?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring security deposits to earn interest.

  • Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account? 

Yes. Security deposits must be deposited in an escrow account established only for holding security deposits. (Ga. Code § 44-7-31)

  • Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?

No. Georgia law permits non-refundable fees, but they cannot be part of the security deposit and must be stated in the rental agreement. (Ga. Code § 44-7-30)

  • How long do landlords have to return security deposits?

30 days. (Ga. Code § 44-7-34(a))

  • Can landlords withhold security deposits?

Yes. Landlords can use the deposit for nonpayment of rent or fees for late payment, for the abandonment of the premises, for nonpayment of utility charges, for repair work or cleaning contracted for by the tenant with third parties, for unpaid pet fees, or actual damages caused by the tenant’s breach. (Ga. Code § 44-7-34(a))

  • Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?

Yes. Landlords must provide the tenant a written statement identifying the exact reasons for the deductions, which shall include the comprehensive list of damages if the reason for deduction is based on damages to the premises, along with the remaining security deposit, via first-class mail to the last known address of the tenant.  (Ga. Code § 44-7-34(a))

  • Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.

  • Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?

Within three business days after the termination of the residential lease and vacation of the premises or the surrender and acceptance of the premises, whichever occurs first, the landlord or his or her agent shall inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive list of any damage done to the premises which is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar value of such damage.  The tenant shall upon request have the right to inspect the premises and such list within five business days after the termination of the residential lease and vacation of the premises or the surrender and acceptance of the premises and the inspection by the landlord or his or her agent.  If the tenant is present with the landlord at the time of the inspection, the landlord and the tenant shall sign the list, and this shall be conclusive evidence of the accuracy of the list.  If the tenant refuses to sign the list, he or she shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to which he or she dissents and shall sign the statement of dissent. (Ga. Code § 44-7-33(b)(1))

If the tenant vacates or surrenders the premises without notifying the landlord, the landlord shall inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive list of any damages done to the premises which is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar value of such damage within a reasonable time after discovering the premises has been surrendered by vacancy (Ga. Code § 44-7-33(b)(2)).

In case the tenant disputes the accuracy of the damage list, the tenant can bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction in this state to recover the portion of the security deposit which he or she believes to be wrongfully withheld for damages to the premises. The claim should be limited to those items to which the tenant specifically dissented. If the tenant was present during the inspection of the premises after vacancy and signed the final damage list or fails to dissent, the tenant is not entitled to recover the security deposit or any other damages. If the tenant wasn’t present during the inspection of the premises after vacancy and, in either case, didn’t request a copy of the final damage list from the landlord, the tenant is entitled to dispute the damages (Ga. Code §  44-7-33(c)).

  • What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?

Any landlord who fails to return a deposit that is required to be returned may be liable for three times the amount withheld plus reasonable attorney’s fees. (Ga. Code § 44-7-35(c))

Georgia Rent Laws

  • Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)

No. There are no rent control laws in Georgia.

  • When is rent due?

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

  • Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring a certain payment method for rent.

Fees

  • Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?

Yes. There is no Georgia law forbidding late fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.

  • Can landlords charge application fees?

Yes. There is no Georgia law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Can landlords charge returned check fees?

Yes. Landlords can charge a returned check fee up to $30 or 5 percent of the check, whichever is greater, plus the amount of any bank fees charged. (Ga. Code § 13-6-15(b))

Georgia Landlord-Tenant Relations

Notices

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms. However, landlords cannot raise your rent in the middle of your lease.

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?

No. There is no Georgia law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.

  • What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?

No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease.

  • What notice is required to terminate a tenancy-at-will?

The landlord may terminate the tenancy with 60 days’ notice or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 30 days’ notice.  (Ga. Code § 44-7-7)

  • Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

Entry Provisions

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

  • What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?

There is no Georgia law requiring landlords to give tenants notice of entry.

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

Landlord’s Duties  (Ga. Code § 44-7-13)

  • Landlords must keep the premises in repair and is liable for all substantial improvements placed upon the premises by his or her content. (Ga. Code § 44-7-13)
  • The landlord shall not knowingly and willfully suspend the furnishing of utilities (heat, light, and water service) to the tenant until after the final disposition of any dispossessory proceeding by the landlord against the tenant. If the landlord violates this obligation shall, upon conviction, be assessed a fine not to exceed $500.00 (Ga. Code §44-7-14.1).

Tenant’s Duties

  • There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

Required Landlord Disclosures

  • Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of: 
    • the person authorized to manage the premises.
    • the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving notices. (Ga. Code § 44-7-3(a)
  • If any portion of the living space covered by the lease has been damaged by flooding three times in the last five years, the landlord must disclose the property’s propensity of flooding to prospective tenants in writing. (Ga. Code § 44-7-20) In case of name or address changes, the landlord shall advise the tenant of such change within 30 days after the change either in writing or by posting a notice of the change in a conspicuous place (Ga. Code § 44-7-3(a)).
  • Before renting pre-1978 property, landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65). When a child under the age of six is found to have lead poisoning and resides in a dwelling containing lead poisoning hazards, the Georgia Division of Public Health has the authority to require that the owner take steps to reduce the lead poisoning hazards on the property (Ga. Code § 31-41-14 )

Georgia Renters’ Rights

  • What rights do tenants have if their landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

  • Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?

There is no statute in Georgia law covering this issue. 

  • What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Georgia renter’s rights?

The tenant establishes a prima-facie case of retaliation by demonstrating that he or she took actions relating to a life, health, safety, or habitability concern (in good faith exercised or attempted to exercise against the landlord right or remedy granted by contract or law; gave to the landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy; complained to a government entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes or a public utility claiming violation of a building or housing code or utility problem which must be repaired by the landlord and acts in good faith in that a reasonable person would believe that the complaint is valid and the violation or problem occurred; or established, attempted to establish, or participated in a tenant organization to address problems related to the habitability of the property such as life, health, or safety concerns);  and by demonstrating that the landlord, within three months after the date that the tenant took above-mentioned actions: filed a dispossessory action except the notice to repair; deprived the tenant of the use of the premises, except for reasons authorized by law; decreased services to the tenant; increased the tenant’s rent or terminated the tenant’s lease or rental agreement; or materially interfered with tenant’s rights under the lease. (Ga. Code § 44-7-24).

Georgia Eviction Laws

  • What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Georgia eviction laws?
    • Nonpayment of rent 
    • Violation of  lease terms / rental agreement 
    • The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy) (Ga. Code § 44-7-50(a))
  • What notice must landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process in Georgia?
    • For evictions based on non-payment of rent or violation of the rental agreement, the landlord must notice before starting the eviction process, but the statute does not specify a certain timeframe. Landlords do not have to permit the tenant to cure the breach. .  (Ga. Code § 44-7-50(a))
  • For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide 60 days’ notice to terminate all at-will tenancies. If the tenant remains on the rental property after the termination date, the landlord can begin the eviction process without providing additional notice.  (Ga. Code § 44-7-7)
  • Are landlords permitted to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities? 

No. If a landlord intentionally shuts off utilities, the landlord may be assessed a fine not to exceed $500.  (Ga. Code § 44-7-14.1)

COVID-19 Changes to Georgia Landlord-Tenant Laws

Squatter’s rights in Georgia

Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.

Georgia has no specific laws recognizing squatters.

Squatter acquires the right to property by continuance of the possession for the period fixed by law calls “title by prescription” (Ga. Code § 44-5-160). 

To be considered the foundation of prescriptive title, the possession must be:

  • In the right of the squatter and not of another;
  • Not originated in fraud except if such fraud is actual or positive, discovered, and not merely constructive or legal;
  • Public, continuous, exclusive, uninterrupted, and peaceable; and
  • Accompanied by a claim of right. (Ga. Code § 44-5-161, Ga. Code § 44-5-162).

Permissive possession can’t be the foundation of a prescriptive title until an adverse claim and actual notice to the other party (Ga. Code § 44-5-161). 

If such possession meets said requirements for a period of 20 years, it shall confer good title by prescription to the property against everyone except the state and persons laboring under the disability (minority, mental illness or intellectual disability, imprisonment) (Ga. Code § 44-5-163, Ga. Code § 44-5-170)

Real property possession under written evidence of title and according to said requirements, for a period of 7 years shall confer good title by prescription to the property against everyone except the state and persons laboring under the disabilities. If the written title is forged or fraudulent and if the person claiming adverse possession had actual notice of such forgery or fraud when he or she commenced the possession, no prescription may be based on such possession. (Ga. Code § 44-5-164).

The possession meeting said requirements for a period of 4 years confers title to the property by prescription. No prescription occurs when the property is concealed, removed from the state, or otherwise not subject to reclamation (Ga. Code § 44-5-177).

Also, the possession must be:

  • Hostile (without permission of the real owner).
  • Actual (having control over the property).
  • Exclusive (physically possessed solely by the squatter).
  • Open and notorious (publicly possessing the property, like the real owner would).
  • Continuous period of time. (Ga. Code § 44-5-165, Ga. Code § 44-5-170). 

Government 

Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations

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