Georgia law allows a landlord to evict a tenant for certain reasons, such as nonpayment of rent and lease violations. It goes without saying that you must follow the proper steps for the eviction to be successful.
Below is an overview of the Georgia eviction process.
What’s the Eviction Process in Georgia? Here's a Guide
Georgia landlord-tenant law outlines the process that landlords must follow when evicting their tenants. The following is a basic overview of the step-by-step process.
Step #1: Serving a Notice for Lease Termination
To begin the eviction process, you need to terminate the lease by serving the tenant an eviction notice. The notice informs the tenant to either fix the problem or move out within a certain notice period.
The notice must contain certain information for it to be valid:
- The date.
- The full name of the tenant.
- The property’s address.
- Reason for the eviction notice.
- The amount of overdue rent (if the eviction is due to nonpayment of rent).
- The notice period the tenant has to either fix the violation or move out.
- A statement indicating how you, the landlord, served the eviction notice to the tenant.
Nonpayment of Rent
Of course, you can evict a tenant for failing to pay their rent on time. Georgia considers rent to be late a day after it’s due. To begin the eviction process against the tenant, you must first serve them a written notice.
Unlike most other states, Georgia laws don’t specify the amount of notice to give a tenant. For best practice, though, allow the tenant at least 3 days before moving to court to file an eviction lawsuit.
If the three days pass and the tenant hasn't paid or moved out, you may proceed with the process.
Violation of the Lease Agreement
You can evict a tenant in Georgia if they fail to uphold their lease responsibilities.
The following are some examples of lease violations:
- Exceeding the occupancy limit.
- Having a pet when there is a no-pet policy stated in the lease.
- Smoking inside the premises when there is a no-smoking policy.
- Subletting the unit without the landlord’s permission.
- Making alterations to the property when the lease forbids it.
- Causing excessive property to the rental premises.
- Engaging in illegal activities in the rental premises, such as drug use.
Again, Georgia doesn’t specify the amount of notice to serve the tenant prior to filing an eviction action. However, once the notice period you have given them lapses, you may proceed with the eviction process.
Continuing to Stay After the Lease has Expired
This is another just cause for eviction in the state of Georgia. A tenant who continues to stay after their lease has expired is known as a ‘holdover’ tenant. You must serve them a notice before evicting them.
Specifically, you must serve them a 60 days notice. This is regardless of the type or the length of tenancy. If the tenant doesn’t move out within the 60 days, you can continue with the removal process.
Step #2: Serving a Complaint and Summons
If the tenant doesn’t move out within the notice period, you can move to court and file an eviction lawsuit.
In Georgia, an eviction lawsuit is also called a dispossessory action. Fees for filing the lawsuit can range between $60 and $75 depending on the county where your property is located.
After successfully filing the complaint, either a magistrate’s judge or clerk may issue the summons and serve them to the tenant.
After being served an affidavit, the tenant will have to respond within seven days. If they don’t, the court will rule in your favor by offering a default judgment.
If the tenant does file an answer with the court, the court will set a hearing date. Common tenant eviction defenses to evictions include:
- The landlord tried to evict them on their own by shutting down utilities, locking them out, or removing their belongings from the unit.
- The landlord discriminated against the tenant on the basis of their race, color, nationality, or any other protected class.
- Eviction charges were falsified by the landlord.
- The eviction was retaliatory after the tenant exercised any of their rights, such as joining a tenants’ union.
- The eviction process had errors.
Step #3: Posting a Writ of Possession
After a successful judgment, the court will issue you a Writ of Possession. A writ of possession is an order from the court giving possession of the property back to the landlord.
The writ directs the constable or sheriff to take control of the premises and give it back to the landlord.
Usually, this writ is issued by the court after 7 days of the judgment. Georgia law does not state how quickly the eviction must be done after the writ of possession is issued. Typically, it takes anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
Keeping up to date with all the laws surrounding property management is important, but also challenging for landlords. Get in touch with Vineyard Property Management.
We are a quality Marietta property management company that understands Georgia law and other aspects of property management. Not only can we help keep your Marietta property legally compliant, but we can get great, responsible tenants in your unit.
Disclaimer: This article isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Also, laws change often, and this content may not be updated at the time you read it.