Leasing Rules for a Tenant-at-Will

Lease, Real Estate Law, Tenant

Written leases provide landlords and tenants with the security of clear, explicit provisions governing their relationship and the terms of the tenancy. While the advantages of a written lease are evident, sometimes the parties do not have a written lease for a variety of reasons. A tenant who resides in a rental unit and pays rent to the landlord without a written lease is referred to as a “tenant-at-will.” A tenancy-at-will is defined as a tenancy in which no time is specified for termination of the tenancy. A month to month lease is not the same as a tenancy-at-will since the former likely provides in a written lease that the lease period will continue on a month to month basis.

A tenant-at-will is permitted to use the property in the same manner as a tenant with a written lease. Similarly, most of the state’s landlord-tenant laws, including those dealing with eviction procedures, apply to tenants-at-will. However, there are a number of provisions in Georgia law that specifically relate to a tenancy-at-will, as discussed below.

Termination of lease and other material terms. When the parties do not have a written agreement, there is no stated termination date for the lease. The landlord must provide the tenant with 60 days of notice before terminating the lease or amending the original agreement between the parties. One of the terms of the lease which mandates a 60-day notice period is an increase in the rent. In contrast, a tenant-at-will is required to provide the landlord with 30 days of notice to amend the terms of the lease and to terminate the occupancy. The tenant-at-will is responsible for paying the full 30-day term from the time that notice is given to the landlord. Notices from the landlord and tenant should preferably be made in writing.

Default on rental payments. Under Georgia law, a landlord can provide a tenant with notice to vacate the unit in 60 days and choose the date on which the tenancy will terminate. The landlord is not required to give 60 days of notice to a tenant-at-will who has defaulted in rental payments. Instead, the landlord can demand possession of the premises and file a dispossessory affidavit in court immediately.

The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at https://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.

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