In Georgia, a landlord can evict a tenant for a variety of reasons, including failure to pay rent or violation of a lease or rental agreement term. Before the eviction can occur, though, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to come into compliance with the lease or rental agreement. The landlord does this by giving the tenant notice. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, then the landlord can terminate the tenancy and file an eviction lawsuit, also called a dispossessory proceeding.
This article will explain the different rules and procedures landlords must follow when evicting a tenant in Georgia.
For a landlord to terminate a tenancy early, the landlord must have cause, or a legal reason. In Georgia, those legal reasons are failing to pay rent or violating the terms of the lease or rental agreement. If a tenant fails to pay rent or violates the terms of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant a written notice, also called a demand, asking for rent to be paid or for the tenant to come into compliance with the lease or rental agreement. However, unlike most other states, George law does not state how long the landlord must wait before filing the eviction lawsuit. The landlord could give the tenant as little as 24 hours or as long as 10 days to comply with the notice. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can file the eviction lawsuit (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-50).
If a landlord does not have cause to terminate a tenancy early and evict a tenant, then the landlord must wait until the lease term has ended before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord may still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
If a tenant is in a month-to-month tenancy and the landlord wishes to end the tenancy, the landlord needs to give the tenant a written 60-day notice. This notice will inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 60 days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-7). For more information on this topic, check out Georgia Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy.
If a landlord does not have cause to evict a tenant who is in a fixed-term tenancy (such as for six months or one year), then the landlord must wait until the end of the term before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to give the tenant written notice to move unless the terms of the lease or rental agreement specifically require the landlord to do so. The landlord can expect the tenant to move by the end of the term.
A tenant may choose to fight an eviction, even if the landlord feels positive that the eviction is justified. If the tenant chooses to fight the eviction, this could increase the amount of time the lawsuit will take. The tenant could have several potential defenses, including the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit or discriminating against the tenant. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Georgia has more information on this topic.
A landlord must never attempt to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit. The only legal way to remove a tenant is for the landlord to file an eviction lawsuit and win it. Even after the landlord wins the lawsuit, only a sheriff or constable is allowed to remove, or evict, the tenant. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Georgia has more information on illegal eviction practices.
The landlord may find that the tenant has left personal property at the rental unit after moving out. If the tenant moved out of the rental unit at the natural end of the tenancy and not because of an eviction, then Georgia law does not give any guidance as to what the landlord should do with that property. The best practice will be for the landlord to try to contact the tenant and return the property, especially if it is something of value. If the tenant does not claim the property, then the landlord can dispose of it. Handling a Tenant's Abandoned Property in Georgia has more information.
If the tenant moved out of the rental unit because the landlord won the eviction lawsuit, then Georgia law makes it very clear that any property left at the rental unit after the eviction has occurred is considered abandoned. The landlord does not have an obligation to try to return it to the tenant. The landlord can dispose of the property as soon as the eviction has occurred (see Ga. Code Ann. § 44-7-55). Handling a Tenant's Property in Georgia: After an Eviction has more information.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Georgia law when evicting a tenant. Otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.