Handling a Tenant's Property in Georgia: After an Eviction
Learn the rules landlords in Georgia must follow to deal with property abandoned by a tenant after an eviction.
If you’ve won an eviction lawsuit -- called a “proceeding against tenant holding over” or “dispossessory proceeding” in Georgia -- you may feel like tossing the tenant’s belongings out into the street. But Georgia law sets out specific procedures for dealing with a tenant’s property after an eviction. Here are answers to some common questions about what you must do.
The court granted permission to evict the tenant. How long must I wait before removing the tenant’s property from the rental unit?
After you win an eviction lawsuit in Georgia, the court will issue an order called a “writ of possession,” allowing you to take back the rental unit and remove the tenant’s property. However, you must wait seven days before you act. (See Georgia Code § 44-7-55.) The waiting period gives the tenant time to pay what’s owed to you and move out on their own.
After seven days, you may ask the county marshal’s department to physically evict the tenant. The marshal will supervise you (or people you have hired) as you remove the tenant’s belongings from the rental property.
After removing the tenant’s property from the rental unit, can I get rid of it?
Yes. Unlike many other states, Georgia does not require you to store the property for any length of time after you remove it from the rental unit. You may move the property to any location you choose and you may dispose of it however you like -- you don’t have a legal duty to keep or protect the property for the tenant. (See Georgia Code § 44-7-55.)
If the property is trash, such as an old mattress, be careful not to violate any local ordinances that prohibit dumping property in public places such as on sidewalks or curbs.
When should I get a lawyer’s help?
If the abandoned property is very valuable or if you have any reason to believe the tenant may continue to cause problems, it’s wise to talk to a lawyer before you get rid of the tenant’s belongings. A good lawyer can help you protect yourself from claims that you have stolen or improperly destroyed a tenant’s property.
You can search for an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in Georgia using Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.
For more information about your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, see the Landlords section of Nolo.com, including the article Top 8 Landlord Legal Responsibilities in Georgia.
If you want a comprehensive legal and practical handbook for residential landlords, check out Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, and Janet Portman (Nolo).