Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants is important as satisfied tenants are more likely to stay in your property long-term. But when they do not perform their responsibilities, as tenants, properly it can create a huge problem for your rental business.
Having to deal with problematic tenants and complaints is one of the things that landlords dread. Bad tenants are some who do not pay their rent on time and deliberately damage the property. Sometimes, they also cause trouble with the neighbors and other tenants.
When situations like this arise, eviction may be an inevitable option. That is why it’s essential to know the eviction laws in Georgia and the landlord-tenant laws, to help you handle the process smoothly.
What Is the Eviction Process in Georgia?
In Georgia, it can take an average of one to three months to evict a tenant. The duration of the eviction process depends on the type of eviction you file. This can also vary depending on whether tenants file a counter appeal. If tenants choose to file this appeal, the eviction process may take longer than usual.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
A Georgia landlord can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons, such as:
- When the tenant fails to pay the rent.
- When the tenant violates the rental agreement, including illegal activity.
- When the tenant remains at the property even without a lease or after the term of the lease has ended.
When the rent is past due, a written or verbal notice should be provided to tenants that they may be evicted. The law doesn’t specify how many days tenants should be given in the notice before starting the eviction process.
In Georgia, rent is considered past due if it remains unpaid the day after the due date. If landlords provide a grace period, this should be indicated in the lease agreement. Georgia landlords may begin eviction if the tenants do not pay the rent by the end of the notice period.
If the reason for eviction is a violation of lease terms, Georgia landlords should provide the notice without allowing tenants to correct the violation. As Georgia law does not specify how much time should be given to tenants, you can begin with the eviction process if the property remains unvacated after the notice period expires.
If tenants stay in the rental property even after the lease has ended, the landlord may give notice to tenants before the eviction. Landlords are required to provide at least 60 days’ notice to “at-will” or holdover tenants before starting the eviction process. The landlord may proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit if the tenant remains on the property after the notice period ends.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice in Georgia
In Georgia, landlords should give tenants a notice to quit before starting the eviction procedure. Georgia law does not specify the notice period for nonpayment of rent and violation of lease terms.
But landlords should provide “at-will” or hold-over tenants with at least 60 days’ notice before the eviction process. Landlords are required to file a dispossessory warrant in the appropriate court—a filing fee ranging from $60 to $75 is charged.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Georgia
If you proceed with an eviction process, it’s likely that a tenant will look to dispute it. A tenant may claim that:
- You don’t provide or stop providing essential amenities like electricity and water.
- You change the locks.
- Your eviction was due to discriminatory reasons and a breach of the Fair Housing Act, such as against the tenant’s race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or family status.
- Your eviction was retaliatory in nature because the tenant made a request for necessary repairs, and you failed to comply.
- You filed an eviction case within three months after the tenant joined a tenant organization.
All of which, are suitable legal defenses in an eviction lawsuit. Bare in mind, that in this case, you may need to resolve any issues with the security deposit.
Attending Court Hearing in Georgia
Under Georgia law, there is no specific timeline on how soon an eviction hearing must be held after filing the warrant with the court. Typically, this schedule will depend on the hearing schedule of the trial court.
A tenant’s failure to respond to the complaint or appear for the hearing means a default judgment will be issued by the court in favor of the landlord. This also means that the tenant will be required to move out.
If the court rules in favor of the landlord at the eviction hearing, it will issue a writ of possession, and the eviction will begin. To avoid eviction, tenants can appeal the judgment within seven days.
Writ of Possession
If the landlord wins the eviction case, a writ of possession will be issued within seven days after the judgment. The writ of possession will serve as the tenant’s final notice to vacate the rental premises. This notice will allow them to remove their belongings and leave the property in peace.
If the tenant remains on the premises even after the writ is issued, the sheriff will forcibly remove them and the possession of the property will then be returned to the landlord. Georgia law doesn’t indicate how soon a constable or sheriff should act on a writ of possession after it has been issued by the court.
The actual eviction could take a few days to a few weeks, depending on how busy the officers are with other evictions.
Handling troubled tenants is one of the major reasons why many real estate investors are scared to invest in rental properties.
But landlords can opt to hire a property management firm to handle an eviction process when needed. Working with a reliable property management company like us at Rent Appeal can help minimize the problems landlords have to face.