A landlord can evict a tenant in Georgia for violating any portion of the lease or rental agreement, such as by having pets when none are allowed, disturbing the peace, or willfully damaging part of the rental unit.
This article will explain how a landlord can evict a tenant for lease violations according to the landlord-tenant law in Georgia.
Time Frames for Eviction Notices in Georgia
State law (the Georgia Code) does not set out specific time frames for a landlord to follow when evicting a tenant. Generally, a landlord can send a tenant an eviction notice as soon as the landlord is aware that the tenant has violated the lease agreement. The eviction notice should give the tenant a reasonable amount of time, typically ten to thirty days, to fix the violation or move out of the rental unit. The time frame would begin on the day the tenant receives the eviction notice and should include weekends and holidays (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-50).
Information Included in a Georgia Eviction Notice for Lease Violations
In Georgia, an eviction notice does not have to be written; a landlord could orally tell the tenant that the tenant must fix the lease violations or move out of the rental unit, or the landlord will begin eviction proceedings. However, it is best practice for the landlord to put the notice in writing. Ideally, any written notice should include the following information:
- date the notice was served on the tenant(s)
- name(s) and address of tenant(s) rental unit
- the reason for the notice (that the tenant violated the lease agreement)
- a statement that the tenant has a certain time period (preferably ten to thirty days) to fix the lease violation (the notice should specify the exact date by which this must happen) or the landlord will begin eviction proceedings, and
- a statement specifying how the notice was given to the tenant.
Serving the Eviction Notice in Georgia
Georgia law does not provide any rules on how the eviction notice must be given to the tenant. If the landlord chooses to give the tenant a written notice, it is best practice for the landlord to do so in one of the following ways:
1. The landlord, or the agent of the landlord, can personally give the notice to the tenant.
2. The landlord, or an agent of the landlord, can post the notice in a conspicuous place at the rental unit, such as on the front door of the apartment.
3. The landlord can mail a copy of the notice to the tenant through registered or certified mail. It is always best practice to request a return receipt if using this option.
Tenant's Options for Responding to an Eviction Notice in Georgia
The tenant has a few options when receiving an eviction notice:
1. The tenant can fix the lease violation, if possible. Depending on the situation, the landlord may not proceed with the eviction lawsuit.
2. The tenant can move out of the rental unit. If the tenant moves out of the rental unit but owes damages to the landlord, the landlord can use the security deposit to cover the damages, or sue the tenant for the amount owed to the landlord.
3. If the tenant does not fix the lease violation and does not move out of the rental unit, then the landlord can file an affidavit with the court to begin the eviction process, also known as a dispossessory proceeding.
Filing an Eviction Lawsuit in Georgia
The landlord can file an affidavit with the court to begin the dispossessory proceeding if the tenant refuses to move out of the apartment after receiving notice. The landlord must obtain an order from the judge before the tenant can actually be evicted.
A landlord in Georgia cannot evict the tenant without a court order. A landlord must not engage in "self-help" eviction practices, such as changing the locks on the door or shutting off the utilities to the rental unit. This type of behavior is illegal in Georgia (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-14.1).
Additional Resources for Landlord-Tenant Issues in Georgia
The state of Georgia has published a helpful handbook entitled the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook. This handbook provides many answers to commonly asked eviction-related questions.
The Nolo website also has many articles on landlord-tenant relations in Georgia, including illegal eviction procedures in Georgia and tenant defenses to evictions in Georgia. The Georgia charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo website also have useful information. For more eviction articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site.