Looking to invest in rental properties in one of Georgia’s many lovely cities like Savannah, Atlanta, or Augusta? Or maybe you have a beautiful southern property picked out in a more rural landscape. Either way, you need to be informed on what you need to do as a landlord to keep yourself and your tenants safe and within Georgia state law. Below is an overview of the most important things to know as a landlord in the great state of Georgia.
One of the most important aspects of being a landlord is knowing what your rights are when evicting a tenant. When dealing with the Fair Housing Act lawyers may need to be involved, seeing as any infringement in evictions proceedings can be serious and costly. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against seven protected classes (race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status), but Georgia specifically also protects military service members by extending certain privileges like allowing them to terminate a lease punishment-free for attending to service duties. However, if you are looking for a general overview of your state’s evictions guidelines, here are the Georgia laws on eviction notice periods.
As for rent demand notices, the only written law is that landlords can issue a pay-or-quit notice the very next day after rent is due, and they are not required to wait any specified amount of time before they can file an evictions lawsuit.
If you are forced not to renew with the current tenant due to other, no-fault reasons, you have a responsibility to give notice of at least 60 days.
Georgia landlord tenant laws do not require any advanced notice for landlords wishing to enter their property, and do not have any restrictions regarding permitted times that landlords can enter the premises. However, it is generally recommended that landlords give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering a unit for inspections or showings. Further, in the event of an emergency, landlords do not have to give notice before entering.
Georgia security deposit law is relatively cut-and-dry, seeing as there is no deposit limit and landlords are not required to pay any interest on their tenant’s security deposits. However, landlords must return their tenant’s security deposit within 30 days following move-out.
Georgia landlords are required to tell their tenants certain things about the property they occupy prior to moving in. A couple of these disclosures include whether there was a death on the premises, or if flooding occurred previously and whether that flooding caused any damage to the property. However, while a landlord only has to answer honestly when asked whether someone has died in the property, the landlord must provide in writing any flooding that occurred before. If the landlord does not tell tenants about previous flooding and that tenants’ belongings are then damaged in subsequent flooding during their lease term, the landlord is then liable for the damages.
Also, landlords must tell the tenants the names of the owner of the property and any of their authorized agents, if they have them. Tenants must also be informed in writing of the location of the escrow account holding their security deposit.
Another important disclosure is providing a move-in/move-out checklist for your tenants. When they move in, you will need to provide documentation of all existing damage to the property. If the tenant wants to take a walk around the unit to inspect whether the list is complete and accurate, they are welcome to do so. Also, when the lease is over, you will need to go back through the unit and document any and all damages. When withholding part of the security deposit, you must give the tenant the list of all the damages you are charging for and their dollar amounts.
Rent and Fees
If a landlord does not complete a needed repair in a reasonable amount of time, then the tenant has a right to hire an outside professional to make that repair. The tenant, with the proper receipts to verify the cost, can deduct the money spent from their rent payment. Although this is not explicitly written in Georgia state law, it’s generally upheld in the courts and can be found in the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook.
Also, landlords can charge a fee if their tenant’s check bounces. This fee can be either $30 or 5% of the check amount depending on which one is greater. The amount also can include any additional costs tacked on by the banking institution for trying to cash a bounced check.
It’s important to note that application fees are not regulated in Georgia, and rent control is banned. Landlords are able to increase or adjust the rent of their properties as they see appropriate.
Some other facts you should know when investing in rental property in the peach state is that the average rent price there is $1,999. If you buy property in Atlanta, the median rent rate is $2,260.
Georgia is a fantastic state, and Atlanta offers a young, diverse, and bustling city to invest in. However, as with any location, there are a few things mentioned above that you should consider before committing to purchasing property there. Do your research and decide for yourself whether you see success in a Georgia real estate venture.