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Georgia Renters Rights

Georgia has been drawing in new residents for a number of years. They’re attracted to the state by the hospitality, charm and plain good manners of the residents. And for the food, the culture, the music, the sports, the scenery, colleges and much more.

But while you’ll always get a warm welcome, it still pays to take care when you’re renting a property. Here are some key facts for Georgia renters to help get you started.

The Lease

Usually, if you’ve got a written lease it will cover off almost all the issues or disputes that can crop up during your rental. However, many leases have gaps that you need to fill in – or areas that need clarifying. If you have a dispute, go back to the lease to see if there’s anything in there that can make matters more clear or help resolve the situation. A comprehensive lease should include the following:

  • Names of the tenant, the landlord or the landlord's agent, and the person or company authorized to manage the property
  • A description of the rental unit, including appliances and the heat and cooling sources
  • The rental period
  • The amount of rent and the date it’s due, plus any grace period, late charges, or charges for returned checks
  • How and where you must deliver the rental payment (i.e. check, money order, or cash)
  • How to end the agreement before the lease expires and what, if any, charges will be imposed
  • The security deposit amount
  • The utilities the landlord provides and the calculation of your fees if you’re being charged for them by your landlord and not the utility company
  • Any amenities and facilities which the tenant can use such as a swimming pool or laundry
  • Rules and regulations – we’re talking about things like pets and noise rules
  • Identification of parking spaces if available
  • Details of any pest control
  • Handling and resolving repairs
  • When the landlord can enter the property and what notice they must provide

Damage Deposit

Landlords have a habit of trying to keep hold of some, or all of your deposit. They don’t have an automatic right to do this and have to prove any deductions are justifiable. That’s why it makes sense to have a good look at a property before you sign the lease and make a note of any damage. Give a copy to your landlord, get him to agree to any repairs (or at least acknowledge what you’ve noticed) and keep a copy for yourself.

Your landlord might even have a check-list document that you can agree together and sign to make everything official. When moving out you can refer back to this to avoid any confusion or unfair deductions.

Duty to Repair

When you move into your property, you generally take it in ‘as is’ condition – barring any areas/repairs that the landlord has agreed to perform. Repairs like these include things that affect your safety like missing floorboards or faulty wiring. If you spot issues like this after you move in, always raise them with your landlord as soon as possible.

Many communities have local housing codes that require landlords to maintain their property and make any necessary repairs to meet minimum standards. The landlord has a responsibility to deliver your property in a standard that meets this code.

Generally, your lease will have provisions about repairs. Your landlord may violate your rights as a tenant if you are asked to repair or maintain any of the following:

  1. The building structure
  2. Electric, heating, and plumbing devices (as long as you haven’t broken them)
  3. Appliances including heating and air conditioning
  4. Anything else that’s required to meet local ordinances and minimum safety standards

Unlike some other states, a Georgia landlord cannot charge a tenant who has terminated a lease for normal wear and tear damages.

Eviction

To evict you, the landlord must send you a letter saying they demand possession.

  • A Notice of Termination is notice that you’ve breached the lease.
  • A Notice to Quit is a notice demanding possession.

Any notice should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested.

The next step is for the landlord to apply for a Dispossessory Warrant, commonly known as a Dispo. This is basically a lawsuit asking for the judge to give the property back to the landlord, plus any rent owed, if applicable.

You’ve only got 7 days to answer this, so if you want to argue the case you’ve got to be quick. If the landlord wins either in court, or because you haven’t replied, then a Writ of Possession is issued and the landlord can get the Sheriff’s Department to execute it.

Constructive Eviction: If something goes wrong with your rental – likes it burns down, it’s dangerous, or a tree falls on it - and you’re forced to leave, this is known as Constructive Eviction. These are usually disputed on a case-by-case basis.

Make sure you’re protected

Georgia is a great place to live and rent. But just because it’s known for its politeness it doesn’t mean you won’t ever get in a dispute. As our guide only covers the basics it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer if you have serious problems.

It’s also a good idea to have renters insurance in place for when you move in – because your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your own stuff like CDs, DVDs, TVs, Sound Systems or even clothes. You’ll also still be personally liable for any accidental damage caused to others – like leaving the bath on and flooding your neighbor’s apartment.

For less than a dollar a day* we can make sure you’re protected from:

  • Theft, fire, wind, smoke and vandalism coverage
  • Water damage liability protection for your unit
  • Personal liability coverage

You can get coverage in minutes, so why not make sure you’re protected today? Find out more about our Georgia Renters Insurance today!

*Based on a national average cost of $10,000 personal property coverage, $50,000 personal liability coverage, $250 deductible, and replacement cost. Visit our website for an exact quote based on your state and the amount of coverage you need.


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