Evicting a tenant in Georgia is not a game of emotions or child play. It is a legal battle that starts with the landlord issuing an eviction notice and ends with the physical removal of the tenant. Getting a bad-behaved tenant out of your property can take longer if you do not cooperate reasonably with the tenant.
The process can happen faster if the tenant and landlord know their responsibilities and rights and stick to their lanes. You must adhere to legal guidelines to avoid lawsuits and financial consequences.
Reasons to Evict a Tenant in Georgia
A landlord has legal backing to evict a tenant if they fail to meet specific lease terms and behavioral criteria. In the event of the following misconduct, you can evict a tenant legally without triggering potential lawsuits.
Consistent Delays in Rent Payment
Delayed rent payment is the leading cause of tenant evictions in Georgia. Georgia does not have strict guidelines on how many days a landlord can give a tenant to pay rent before initiating the exclusion process. As a landlord, be compassionate when giving tenants a timeline to pay their rent. When a tenant honors the verbal or written agreement to pay rent, you have no right to continue with the eviction process.
However, you can call it quits with a tenant who pays rent late. Just serve them a quick eviction notice, and if they don’t honor it, start the legal battle to have them legally removed from your property.
Rental/Lease Agreement Violation
Before moving in, a tenant must sign a lease document containing the terms and conditions that must be followed throughout the lease period. It is the tenant's responsibility to honor the agreement; otherwise, they risk being legally kicked out of the rental apartment. Most landlords have lease agreements that require the tenant never to:
- Stay in the property longer than the agreed lease period
- Practice prostitution and related activities within the rental home
- Assault, abuse, or steal from other tenants and neighbors
- Disturb other tenants with loud music and other activities
- Engage in unlawful activities
- Smoke in forbidden areas
- Keep pets when it is illegal in the rental property
Causing Nuisance and Disturbing Other Tenants
You have equal rights with the tenant next door. Participating in undertakings that disturb the peace of other tenants and the sobriety of the rental apartment could land you in trouble. You could get blacklisted by other tenants or, worse, face an eviction trial. As a landlord, the law permits you to kick out a tenant who causes a nuisance on your property.
Failure to Renew the Lease Agreement
Another common reason landlords kick out tenants is failure to renew the lease agreement. After the lease agreement expires, the tenant is responsible for starting the renewal process. If they fail to do so, the landlord has the power to initiate the eviction process without prior notice.
Related Reading: How Much Can a Landlord Raise Rent in Georgia in 2023?
Reasons Landlords Cannot Evict Tenants in Georgia
A landlord’s eviction rights in Georgia end when they try to evict a tenant without cause. The law clearly states the causes of tenant eviction that carry weight. As a Georgian landlord, you must never evict a tenant for the following reasons:
A Georgia landlord has no right to evict a tenant simply because they exercised their rights. It is illegal for a landlord to start evicting a tenant who reports a code violation, files complaints regarding poor property conditions, or joins a tenant’s union.
The Georgian eviction laws prohibit the eviction of a tenant based on discrimination. Landlords that evict tenants because they discriminate against their gender, race, ethnicity, and religious beliefs should be sued and penalized for their misconduct.
Hate and Disagreement
It is typical for people living in the same environment to disagree on various issues, including politics, religion, personal beliefs, jobs, and life issues in general. Some people go to the extent of hating others based on these disagreements. However, a landlord cannot use disagreements and hatred as the basis for evicting a tenant. The Georgia eviction laws don’t support such unethical behavior from landlords.
Types of Notices in Georgia
A landlord can issue various eviction notices to a tenant in Georgia, depending on the cause of the eviction. However, there are only two prominent, legally-backed notices a landlord can issue to a tenant: a month-to-month tenancy termination notice and a non-payment notice to quit. You can serve a tenant with a notice to quit for non-payment if they have continually dishonored their responsibility to pay rent on time. You can serve this notice immediately after the monthly or yearly rent has expired.
The second type of notice happens when the landlord feels the tenant is no longer honoring part or all the tenancy agreement clauses. The notice gives the tenant 60 days of grace residence, after which they will be evicted following the laid-down eviction laws in Georgia.
Steps of the Eviction Process in Georgia
To evict a tenant in Georgia, the mandatory procedures to follow are;
Serving a Quit Notice
The eviction process in Georgia starts when the landlord issues a quit notice. Tenants must honor the notice to quit within the stipulated time frame. Not doing so gives the landlord the legal right to file an eviction suit and take dispossession action. A quick note to quit for non-rent-payment requires immediate vacating, while termination of tenancy comes with a 60-day allowance time.
When a tenant served with a quit notice does not vacate the property within the given timeframe, the landlord can legally complete a Dispossessory Affidavit. The landlord should work with the magistrate court within the county where their rental property is located. Remember, the landlord must pay a filing fee, and the amount depends on the county and city.
Serve the Tenant a Copy of the Dispossessory Affidavit
Immediately after filing the dispossessory affidavit with the court clerk, the landlord has to serve the tenant a copy of this document. You might have to pay the county sheriff or process server to deliver the documents to the tenant. During the eviction process in Georgia, if the server can’t deliver the documents to the tenant, they can give them to a fellow tenant, who will hand over the papers to the tenant.
Payments of Dues
If the eviction involves a tenant with rent arrears, the landlord will have to give the tenant seven days from the day of serving the affidavit to pay the dues. Because they triggered the filing of the dispossessory and other related legal actions, the tenant must pay for all the costs. In cases where a landlord had filed a dispossessory action within a year, the landlord retains the right to decide whether to accept or reject the payment from the tenant and continue with the eviction process.
Tenant Responds to the Dispossessory Document
A tenant has 168 hours to respond to the dispossessory with a court. If they don’t, they risk facing a default judgment, which is always in the landlord's favor. When the tenant responds, the court will set a hearing date to issue a declaration on the way forward. But when the tenant responds to the affidavit after seven days, the landlord can legally file an Application and Order for Default of Writ of Possession, which permits them to evict the tenant without a court hearing.
The court sets a hearing date when the tenant answers the affidavit within the allowed time. Both parties have to make statements to allow the judge to make a more informed ruling.
Before passing a judgment, the judge must verify the evidence materials and every other document. The court judgment determines the course of action each party should take. If the judgment favors the landlord, the tenant must vacate immediately. If it favors the tenant, the landlord should allow the tenant to decide whether to continue the tenancy.
Related Reading: How to Evict a Tenant - A Landlord's Guide
How to Deliver Termination Notices in Georgia
A Georgia landlord can deliver termination notice to a tenant in varied ways. The choice of delivery method depends on the landlord's preferences, the costs, and the convenience. The leading delivery methods are:
- In-person delivery: A landlord can deliver a termination notice by hand-delivering it in person.
- Certified mail with return receipt requested: If a landlord lives far away from the rental home, they can send a termination notice using certified mail requesting a return receipt.
- Post the notice on the rental property: The eviction laws in Georgia allow a landlord to post the termination notice when they cannot find the tenant.
- Email or text message: It is also allowed for a landlord to send a termination notice to a tenant via text message or email. That is, if the tenant initially agreed to receive notices via text and email.
- Personal service by a process server: When the tenant has packed out of the property or is hard to come by, the landlord can deliver the notice via the help of a process server.
Eviction in Georgia often happens, especially in cases where the tenants fail to honor the lease agreement terms. Most tenants who have ever been evicted from a rental property in Georgia had cases of failing to pay on time and causing a nuisance. As a landlord, don’t be quick to serve a termination notice, as not all issues warrant the termination of the lease agreement. Coordinate with your tenants and set lease agreements that accommodate the needs and preferences of your tenants. It is always important for both tenants and landlords to read and understand the laid-down eviction laws in Georgia to avoid making legal mistakes.