One of the more unpleasant responsibilities of any landlord is evicting a tenant. Many evictions are fraught with emotion on both sides: that of the tenant and the landlord. Because of this, if you are a landlord, it is important that you be prepared to evict a tenant (or tenants) should that become necessary. Being prepared and staying on top of Georgia’s eviction law procedures can go a long way towards making any eviction run smoothly.
Georgia’s eviction laws are very strict. There are specific steps that must be taken in the eviction process and the eviction procedures must be followed to the letter. The most important thing to keep in mind as a landlord is that you need to start the eviction process early and you need to do everything by the book. Don’t skip steps. Don’t try to cut corners. Not following Georgia’s laws precisely can cost you a lot more in time, stress, and money.
Also, keep in mind that if you are a landlord in Georgia, the law prohibits you from using “self-help” methods of evicting a tenant. You cannot threaten a tenant, or remove his property from the premises, or turn off the utilities to try to get a tenant out. You must follow the letter of the law.
Keep Good Records.
If you are evicting a tenant for the failure to pay rent, one of the first things you need to do is to ensure that the rent is actually late. Review your lease agreement to check the date the rent is due. And review all of your records to make sure you did not forget misplace or forget to record a payment.
Once you have confirmed that the rent is late, it is best to serve the tenant with the requisite eviction notice (referred to here as a “Pay Rent or Quit Notice”). While it is possible that the tenant overlooked the payment or that you can work it out and accept a late payment from the tenant, if you do not serve the Pay Rent or Quit Notice as soon as the rent is late, the entire eviction process can end up taking you a long time to conclude. Instead, serve the Pay Rent or Quit Notice and if you get the rent payment, fine. If not, you will be prepared to go ahead with the eviction process.
Make sure to follow the rules regarding how Pay Rent or Quit Notice must be served on the tenant.
Start Your Dispossessory Action.
The final step is to start eviction proceedings in court. In Georgia, the action is referred to as a “dispossessory” action with the court. To begin the process, a landlord must obtain, fill out and file with the court, a dispossessory affidavit (also known as a dispossessory warrant”).
Once the dispossessory affidavit is prepared, the judge will issue a summons to the sheriff to serve on the tenant. The tenant then has 7 days to answer the summons, and the matter will proceed from there through to default or eviction depending on what the tenant does.
Georgia’s eviction rules may not be complicated, but they are unique, and they must be followed precisely for any eviction to run smoothly.
Experienced Real Estate Counsel Here to Help You.
At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., our clients benefit from our experience. We have been practicing real estate for over 30 years. We have offices in Cumming, and we serve clients in Atlanta, Gainesville, Gwinnett County, Bartow County, Hall County, Henry County, Cherokee County, Clayton County, Cobb County, and other counties throughout Georgia. To find out what we can do for you, call us today at: 770-888-7707. Or you can e-mail us with inquiries at: firstname.lastname@example.org