Georgia Rental Laws

Written on March 7, 2014 by , updated on March 13, 2018

Flag of GeorgiaThis article summarizes some key Georgia Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information, and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules, Regulations & Guides

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days. If the landlord is withholding or claiming part of the deposit due to damages, the landlord must provide a list of the damages and the amount withheld, within three days. (O.C.G.A §§ 44-7-33 and O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
  • Allowable Deductions: The landlord is allowed to deduct from the security deposit: (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
  • Security Deposit Interest: The landlord does not have to place the deposit in an interest-bearing account nor does the landlord have to pay interest to the tenant. (handbook)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: The landlord is required to place the security deposit in an escrow account in a banking institution regulated by federal financial laws. The landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the location of the escrow account. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-31) This is not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Nonrefundable Fees: Allowed, but they must not be part of the security deposit. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-30)
  • Application Fees: Allowed (see handbook, pg.11). Use Cozy to avoid application fees.
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: Allowed (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-30)
  • Require Written/Signed Move-In Checklist: If the owner and/or family members own ten or fewer rental units, the owner shall give the tenant a comprehensive list of any existing damage to the rental unit before the security deposit is collected. The tenant has the right to inspect the rental unit to confirm the accuracy of the list prior to moving in. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-33). These requirements are not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Require Itemized List of Move-Out Damages and Charges: Within three business days after the tenant’s move out date, the landlord shall inspect the rental unit and compile a comprehensive list of any damages, along with the estimated dollar value of such damage. This list is the basis for any withholding of the security deposit. The tenant then has the right to inspect the rental unit within five business days after the move-out date in order to ascertain the accuracy of the list. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-33) This is not applicable to owners and family members who collectively own ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by a third party for a fee. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-36)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Failure to Comply: The landlord forfeits any right to withhold a deposit if the money was not originally deposited in an escrow account, or if landlord did not provide move-in/move-out inspection lists. Any landlord who intentionally and wrongfully withholds a deposit may be liable for three times the amount withheld plus attorney’s fees. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-35)

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • When Rent Is Due: No Statute
  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Rent Grace Period: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute
  • No Limit on Rent Amount: No county or municipal corporation may enact or enforce any ordinance that regulates how much rent can be charged for privately owned, single-family or multiple-unit residential rental properties. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-19)
  • Returned Check Fees: Yes, but the fee is not to exceed $30 or 5 percent of the check amount, whichever is greater, plus the amount of any fees charged to the check holder’s bank or financial institution. (O.C.G.A. § 13-6-15) To prevent bounced checks, consider using Cozy.
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No Statute
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (see handbook)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages Caused by Lessee: Yes, but there is no statute that requires the Landlord to look for a new tenant. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34)
  • Abandonment of Personal Property: The landlord can remove the tenants’ abandoned personal property with a formal writ of possession (i.e., a court order). (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-55)
  • Termination of a Service Member:
    • Specific Rules: A landlord must follow a specific process for terminating the lease of an active duty member of the regular or reserve component of the United States armed forces, the United States Coast Guard, the Georgia National Guard, or the Georgia Air National Guard on ordered federal duty for a period of 90 days or longer. See O.C.G.A. § 44-7-22 for specific details.
    • Limited Liability: Any liability of the Service Member for rent, as well as the cost of repairing damages to the rental unit, under the lease may not exceed 30 days’ rent after written notice and proof of the assignment are given to the landlord. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-37)

Notices & Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Tenancy at Will (a Lease with No End Date): 60 days’ notice if the landlord is giving notice; 30 days’ if the tenant is giving notice. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No Statute. Typically no notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease:  60 days’ notice if the landlord is giving notice; 30 days’ notice if the tenant is giving notice. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: No Statute
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination of All Leases for Nonpayment: Immediate lease termination. Landlord can also file for eviction immediately (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-50), however the tenant has seven days to pay to avoid eviction. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-52)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: No Statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: No Statute; 24 hours is recommended (see handbook, pg. 13)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (nonemergency): Yes, but the landlord must provide prior notice; 24 hours is recommended. (see handbook, p. 13)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes, but the landlord must provide prior notice – 24 hours is recommended (see handbook, p. 13)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (handbook, pg. 13)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (see handbook, pg. 55)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. Landlord is not allowed to discontinue heat, electricity, or water service. These actions are punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14.1) 

Disclosures & Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Special Tenant Rights & Restrictions: A tenant may not cut or destroy growing trees, remove permanent fixtures, or otherwise injure the property without prior permission. A tenant may use dead or fallen timber for firewood and pasturing cattle. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-11)
  • Landlord Responsibility & Liability:
    • The landlord must keep the rental unit in repair. The landlord is liable for all substantial improvements made to the rental unit with their consent. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-13)
    • Having fully parted with possession and the right of possession, the landlord is not responsible to third parties damages resulting from the tenant’s negligent or illegal use of the rental unit. The landlord is responsible for damages caused by defective construction or the failure to keep the rental unit in repair. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14)
  • Name and Addresses: At or before the commencement of a tenancy, and 30 days after any change, the landlord must provide the names and addresses of:
    • The owner of the rental unit or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of that person; and
    • The person authorized to manage the premises to the tenant. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-3)
  • Destruction of Dwelling: The destruction of a dwelling by fire or the loss of possession by any casualty not caused by the landlord does not release the tenant from the obligation to pay rent. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-15)
  • Flooding Disclosure: If any portion of the living space covered by the lease has flooded three times in the last five years, the landlord must disclose this to the applicant before signing a lease. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-20)
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No Statute
  • Retaliation: No Statute

Court & Legal Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

Court & legal related:

State agencies & regulatory bodies:

Housing Authorities

Realtor, and landlord and tenant associations

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529 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Bill Fitzgerald

    What happens if a tenant vacates without notice and trashes the apartment and the cost to repair is in excess of $15,000? What if I just want to try and get $15,000 in Small Claims Court? If I can’t sue in Small Claims Court (because it is property damage not allowed to be sought in Small Claims Court or because of the amount), in what court in the county where the renatal property was located do I sue?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bill,

      Congrats on being the first commenter on the GA landlord-tenant law page!

      It’s my understanding that anyone can sue anyone in small claims for damages (property damage, monetary damages such as rent, or other tangible damages) as long as you are not seeking more than $15k in Georgia (O.C.G.A. § 15-10-2). Things like “emotional damages and distress” don’t belong in small claims.

      I’m not a lawyer, so my recommendation would be to call the county courthouse where the rental property is located, and ask for their help. They should be able to to guide you through the process. The county probably has a website with this information too.

  • Michael Johnson

    Thanks Mr Lucas, I love this site and the information it provides.
    On Friday Fulton Deputy served a eviction to one of my tenants in my single family home which both of us reside together. The Deputy said to make sure I put the number two on the door so the right room would be cleared.
    My question, do I simply follow my case and see what happens in the eviction process for the next seven days. Since the enviction was served Friday June 13. If the weekends are not counted in the day count, should I look to Tuesday as the next day of action?
    Can money orders be traced back to the original purchasher, too confirm payment history by the tenant?
    If the tenant has not paid rent, creating a threaten environment , damaging my home, should I go file something on the State of GA and go higher than Fulton County jurisdiction?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michael,

      Since the majority of your questions are asking for legal advice, I can’t really help you there. You’d need to talk to a lawyer for that.

      But what I can say is that I money orders can be a legitimate source of rent payments, but depending on where the tenants purchased them, they may not be traceable. If it was purchased through a bank, there will probably be a paper trail. If purchased through 7-11 or a post office, then probably not.

      I don’t know anything about Fulton County, but typically your local eviction court is the best way to handle an eviction, and if the tenant causes damages or owes you money, you can follow-up with a Small Claims lawsuit – which is the easiest way to get a monetary judgement for $15,000 or less.

  • Megan Ball

    Hi! Thank you for this information. It is very helpful. Do you happen to know if Landlords are allowed to charge different rent amounts based on the number of tenants that are on the lease occupying a unit? For instance… Can a landlord charge $600 per month for one person to rent a unit, but add $50 a month to the rent if there are 2 renters in the unit? If you are unsure, maybe you could suggest a point of contact that I could utilize to continue my research on this matter? Thanks!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Megan,

      I don’t see why not… as long as it is specified in the lease beforehand. Price is not something the landlord can or should be able to change without an addendum. With that said, the a tenant should be able to move-in other tenants without first adding them to the lease – which would require an addendum anyway.

      Have more occupants causes additional damage and wear-and-tear on the unit, not to mention increased utilities – which is a concern if the landlord is paying for it.

  • Eileen Snyder

    Hello, Lucas; Is a landlord or property manager required, by law, to inform a tenant of public housing in close proximity to the rental property?

    I recently moved to Savannah, Ga. and was never informed of the public housing next door, the tenants have caused property damage, throw trash in the yard, trample the landscaping, bang on the side of the house, knock on my door and ask for money. I had to install a burglar alarm for safety and most week nights, call the cops because of the noise at all hours of the night.

    If I was informed, I would have not signed a lease. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Eileen

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Eileen

      Not that I’m aware of.

      Occupants of public housing are not necessarily criminals or have any less rights compared to you or I. In fact, public housing locations are publicly available, and you could have done the research beforehand. Albeit, I would have not thought to do that either.

      As far as the damage, noise, and safety, that’s what the police are for.

      Be glad that you are a tenant and can move on from that location eventually, rather than the property owner who is stuck with the unit.

      If you had asked the landlord about the neighbors and he lied, then you could claim that you entered the agreement under false information.

      If you are looking for a way out of the lease, I suggest peacefully talking with your landlord, or contacting a lawyer to discuss you legal rights.

  • Antionette

    Hi Mr.Lucas

    Can a new landlord admend my current lease to make me pay an security deposit. I’ve been in my unit 4 years now?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Antionette,

      When a tenant gets a new landlord (usually because of the sale of a property), the new landlord has to honor the existing lease that is in place. If your lease is month-to-month, the landlord can make modifications to the agreement with the proper amount of notice.

      If you have fixed-term lease (a lease with a set end date), then the landlord would have to wait until the end of the lease to modify it, and then offer the newly modified lease for you to sign.

  • Cassie Fichter

    What happens if you live in an apartment, it has recently been sold to a bigger rental management company, and the new company is not taking care of the property? Examples- No Current maintenance person, when there was one he still did no repairs, pool is having to be taken care of and funded by employees and tenants, they refuse to return calls.. People have had to move because they had no air conditioning and they repeatedly failed to fix it. What are our rights as tenants in GA?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cassie,

      A landlord is responsible for ensuring the habitability of a unit. If the maintenance issue effect habitability, such as loss of heat or water, then the unit becomes inhabitable (usually done through a county inspection) and the PM/Landlord is forced to make repairs and/or let you out of your lease.

      As for each individual maintenance issue, you’d have to talk to a lawyer about how the rules apply to your specific situation.

      Unfortunately, having a bad PM is far too common. If their lack of care is not effecting habitability, I usually just suggest people ask to get out of their lease, or wait until the lease is up, and move on. Then, write a horrible review on Yelp, and other review sites, so others know to stay away.

      A lawyer might be able to help you write a “demand letter” which could give you leverage to get repairs made or break your lease.

  • b. simmons

    I am about to rent a house in ga and the lease they gave me says if I default on the lease they can give me 24 hour notice to be out. Is that normal or legal?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi B.

      I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t give legal advice. But what I can say is that in my research, shown in the Notices section above, GA allows for immediate termination for non-payment, and there is no statute on terminations for lease violations.

      It’s important for you to read your lease carefully, so you understand how “default” is defined in the lease. I recommend that you spend some time looking through the statutes to learn about your rights, or hire a lawyer to explain them too you.

  • abbagayle

    What is the legal law for moving out of a rental home before your lease over ? Can they sue you?
    Thanks!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Abbagayle

      If a tenant signs a lease (aka a contract), that tenant has committed to paying rent for the full term of the lease. Just because the tenant decides to move-out doesn’t let them off the hook for the rent payments. A landlord can (and should) sue a tenant who has abandoned the lease without permission.

      Landlord does have some responsibility to mitigate damages, as described in O.C.G.A. § 44-7-34

      If you’re looking for a way to abandon the lease without consequence, you should take a copy of your lease to a locally licensed attorney, so he/she can help you understand your rights, and possibly find you a loophole.

  • Tina

    Hi Lucas,

    I have had a big issue with disturbing loud noises (running, jumping, yelling, etc) from the neighbors above me since I moved in ten months ago. I have spoke with the neighbors – they could care less. I have provided numerous written complaints to the apartment management. Only 1 of the complaints were acknowledged and I think that was only because I put it in an apartment survey that was sent to someone over the apartment management. The survey was removed after a week. I have called for the courtesy officer, but unless it’s an emergency they will not come out – which defeats the whole purpose of having a courtesy officer.

    What kind of recourse do I have?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tina,

      You have the right to “quiet enjoyment”, which is ultimately the lease office’s responsibility to ensure. If they can’t provide it, by regulating the noise in the community, then you could claim that they are violating the lease, and could potentially get out of it.

      However, this is easier said than done, especially if you are dealing with a large corporation. You will most definitely need help from an attorney at the first sign of resistance.

      Alternatively, whenever there is yelling, you could call the police and file a noise complaint. If the police receive enough complaints from the same complex, they will fine the owner/management company.

      Otherwise, you might just have to wait until they move, or your lease is up, and you move.

      I hope that helps. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. A locally licensed attorney would be able to explain your rights to you better than I.

  • Mindy

    Hi, we were in a rent to own situation. Signed a lease for one year but have been there for 2 1/2. The landlord decided he wants the house back… He told us to be out in 30 days and we get no money back. We have been paying 1300 $ a month , 1000 for rent and 300 to go toward the house. Is this ok for him to us? Thanks so much!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mindy,

      It all depends on how your lease is written, and what it says. Typically, with lease to own situations, all the money is counted as “rent”, but that a portion of it counts towards the purchase price if the unit is sold to the tenants. However, if the house is never offered to the tenants for purchase, the tenants sometimes lose the extra cash. It all depends on how your agreement was written.

      Because you never signed another term lease, you probably are just on a month-to-month, which Statute O.C.G.A. § 44-7-7 says that 60 days notice is needed to terminate. 30 days is not enough notice according to the statute.

      My suggestion to you is to read your lease carefully. It should define how to handle this situation. If you feel that any of it is illegal (like the amount of notice he’s given you) you should talk to a lawyer right away.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, and I suggest talking to a lawyer before taking any serious action.

  • Mindy

    My landlord gave me back my security deposit and then requested it back from me. She lives in another state and had her friend do a walk though with me (then said he wasn’t her POA and what he says didn’t matter). I sent her pictures of the house and she said it all looked good. I moved 10 days before my lease was up to another state. When the new tenants did their walk through they noticed a few things. She sent me an email of what they were upset about and I had someone go over and fix all of the problems. She complained about the master needing new carpet and one room had some sticky residue in the first email. She decided to replace all of the carpets even though they didn’t need to be done. I gave her partial security deposit back because I was having repairs done to the house but she is now saying I owe her an extra $1,900 for landscaping, oven repair, carpets, and cleaning. The landscaping wasn’t done when I moved in (I got there in December and moved in May we weeded, mowed the lawn, placed new straw)and the oven had already been fixed once but is having the same problem again. I feel I should only pay her for the two rooms carpet since the other ones didn’t need to be done and the cleaning (which I had done the other tenants found residue on the windows and oven and demanded her to hire a cleaning company). I don’t know what I should do. We lived in the house for three and a half years and we had a great relationship with our landlords.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mindy,

      If she signed off on the move-out inspection, then you can use that as evidence of the condition of the property. If the landlord never officially approved the move-out condition, then you may be held liable for the legitimate issues.

      You cannot be held liable for anything that is normal wear-and-tear (like smudges on the windows). Nor can you be held responsible for repairs that would have happened regardless of who lived there. For example, would the oven break under normal use? If so, it’s the landlord’s job to fix it.

      As for the carpet, if you destroyed the carpet before the natural lifespan, then you would only be responsible for the years that you stole from the landlord. For example, if the carpet had a 5 year lifespan, and because of you, it needed to be replaced at year 3. Then you would be responsible for reimbursing the landlord for the 2 years that he lost. So, if he replaced the carpet with a similar style, you would only be responsible for 2/5ths of the cost of the new carpet….. NOT the entire cost. Make sense?

      I suggest talking to a local attorney (local to the rental property), and asking if any of your landlords claims are legit. I suspect she’s just trying to get you to pay for stuff, so she doesn’t have to. Then, try to negotiate with the landlord, so you don’t end up in small claims court. However, if she’s being ridiculous, then perhaps it’s best to have a judge hear the case.

      • Mindy

        Thank you. This was my thinking but wanted to know. She does not have proof of the carpet being put in. The house was 13 years old and she says she replaced the carpet a month before we moved in but there is no receipt of this. She says she had medium grade carpet and had to replace it four years into it but had a 10 year warranty. She has never been a landlord before and doesn’t know the laws. She wants me to make a brand new house for the new couple that moved in.

  • Greg

    Hi Lucas,
    I rented my house out to a couple on July 1st and they have not moved in yet. It’s weird and I dont know why anyone would ever do that, but I’m getting concerned they’re trying to break the lease and not pay for August. Or maybe they’re doing something highly illegal… This doesnt sit well with me. Is there anything I should do to protect my house and myself from being sued or something? They still have 11 more months on their lease .

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Greg, that is highly unusual. Try to get ahold of them. Go out of your way and document all the attempted contact methods. If they don’t make August’s payment, then you might be able to reclaim possession without eviction. You’d have to check with a lawyer though.

  • Cecilia

    So my lease states that I need to give 30 days notice before the end of my lease if I choose to adhere to the set move out date. I overlooked this initially and now will be responsible for paying rent for a month on a place I’m not living. Would I be correct in my conclusion have no legal basis not to pay this rent since there is no existing statute on the subject in Georgia?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cecilia,

      I can’t comment on your legal rights… you would need to talk to a lawyer for that. However, as a tenant you are responsible for upholding your obligations in the lease, as long as they don’t violate laws. As a landlord for many years, I can tell you that this type of notice on fix term leases is VERY common with residential leases nationwide.

      If I were in your shoes, I would pay the 30 days of rent, and ask the landlord if he/she will prorate rent back if they find a replacement tenant sooner. Sorry I didn’t have better news for you. Like I said, I’m not a lawyer, and if you speak with one, they may be able to help you find a loophole.

  • tina

    Hi,
    I have a ass as a landlord. He looks for small opportunities to make money from me. I mailed out his rent check on the 5th by priority mail and he received it on the 6th at 3:19pm. He called me at 9:00 o’clock at night to tell me that he had not received the check. He had his attorney send me an email that I owe him 600 for late charges, which is 10% of my rent. I have had to constantly send him attorney letters telling , him that he cannot call me at night and to call me only 9am to 5pm.

    My lease states that the rent is due on the first day of the month and is considered late on the 5th day, immediately following the date on which such sums are due. Late charges will be added 5 days after the due date thereof. Keep in mind I have a commercial lease.

    My question is can my landlord charge me a late fee, even thought I had mailed the check on the 5th and he received it on the 6th at 3:00 o’clock. I also wanted to know what steps can I take as a tenant to stop my landlord from harrassing me at night. I have already sent him several attorney letters.

    Thanks!
    tina

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for your questions I’m not a fan of landlords who nickel and dime their tenants.

      My non-legal opinion on the matter is that you are liable for the late fee if the rent is not in the possession of the landlord by the end of the day on the 5th of the month. If your lease says there is 5 day grace period, and the late fees are charged on the 6th, then the rent is late if the landlord doesn’t have it by 12:00am on the 6th.

      Many residential late fees often range from 5-10%. I would assume commercial leases would be the same if not more severe.

      To answer your question, Yes, the landlord can charge you a late fee because you failed to get him the rent by the 5th. It doesn’t matter when you mailed it. Technically, it’s due on the 1st. You are allowed to pay rent earlier than that.

      If you already sent him letters from your attorney asking him to stop calling you after 5pm, I would suggest doing two things:
      1. Make sure your rent is paid by the 1st, when it’s due, so he doesn’t have a reason to call
      2. Ask your attorney what the next step is. If the attorney has sent warning letters, the next step would be to file a harassment lawsuit. Your attorney would know whether or not your situation classifies as harassment.

      Also, I suggest asking this same question to your attorney. I’m not a lawyer, and only an attorney can give legal advice.

  • Kimberly

    Can a tenant (leasee) add a addendum to the lease for renting a home if they want to protect themselves in the event that they want some kind of protection againist a foreclosure or would like reassurance that a homeowner is current on the mortgage.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Kimberly,

      Either party can draft up whatever addendum they want, but you can’t force the other person to sign it if they don’t want to.

      The only time the tenant really has any leverage to add in addendums is before the primary lease is signed.

      • Kimberly

        Thanks so much Lucas for your guidance. I would like to ask the homeowner to provide me quarterly a letter or something showing that the mortgage payments are current. I feel that if we make the rental payments on time then they should in turn pay the mortgage on time. I wouldn’t have a concern if the realtor hadn’t told me “out of obligation” that she heard from the homeowner and he informed her that the mortgage was behind but that he was almost caught up and for me not to worry…well I worry!!

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Kimberly,

          Again, you can ask, but he has no obligation to show you any mortgage statements. You are not on the mortgage and therefore have no right to see that documentation.

          I completely understand where you are coming from, but your rental payments are not connected to his mortgage, nor should they be. They are complete separate agreements. If you don’t pay your rent, he will still have to pay his mortgage. Likewise, if he doesn’t pay his rent for 3 months, you are still obligated to pay your rent.

          The bottom line is that you are paying for a place to live. Even if he doesn’t pay his mortgage, you are still getting your money’s worth – until the day that the bank forecloses – and even then, sometimes tenants are allowed to stay – and continue making rent payments to the bank. If there is a foreclosure, often times banks never ask for rent, so you might get to stay there free for a few months.

          I think you just have to make the rental decision based on the information that you were provided. There’s ALWAYS a chance that the owner won’t pay his/her mortgage, but asking for “proof” might be offensive to the landlord and he doesn’t really have to give it to you anyway. It would be a very bad way to start our the landlord-tenant relationship, because you are trying to control something that you can’t control.

  • Missy

    I paid first and last month’s rent and a security deposit when I moved in to my apartment. I am moving at the end of the month. I made an error on my dates and signed a new lease one month early. I told my apartment manager I would be moving at the end of the month and she said my lease was not up until the end of next month, I told her to keep the last month’s rent I had paid up front and she said no. She told me that the money was nonrefundable and I could not get it back or use have it applied to the last months rent. Have you ever heard of this? Confused

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Missy,

      Last months rent should always be used for… well… THE LAST MONTH! I’ve never heard of a manager trying to keep the last month’s rent – as if it were part of the damage deposit. That’s just wrong. She is correct that it is non-refundable, but is MUST be used for the last month’s rent.

      Are you sure there’s not other fees involved – like an early termination fee, or something else that is offsetting her numbers?

      I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice, but if I were in your shoes, I would tell her “tough rocks!”, and say “I already pre-paid my last month’s rent, it’s not my problem if you’ve already spent it. If I owe money for something else, please let me know.”

  • carter

    Thanks for the information. I lost my job and owed rent of this month. I told my landlord I would be moving out by the end of the month. He agreed, but before the month was over he put my stuff out what he didn’t keep. I was not served an eviction notice. What are my options?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Carter

      Bill is right. Go find a lawyer and sue your landlord. Even if you had abandoned the place (which you didn’t), there are strict laws on abandoned property. Your landlord basically stole your stuff and performed a “self-help” eviction – sooooooo illegal.

      There are a few links in the article above to legal aid services which provide discounted or free legal help. Take this guy to court. The judge is going to have a field day with your landlord.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, so please talk to a local attorney.

      • Bill Fitzgerald

        Yes those links should be helpful. I am a lawyer but in San Francisco (Go Giants!) but what Carter describes is blatantly illegal in pretty much all 50 states. The judge will have a field day.

  • Bill Fitzgerald

    Carter:

    Go find a tenants’ rights attorney and sue him for wrongful eviction. He CAN’T do that.

  • keith

    I rent a house in Augusta GA, the tenants are on a month to month lease, the tenants had an inspector come to my property in which they rent without my consent, is this legal and ok for them to do? Would I have the right to ask them to vacate the premises? Their month to month lease is up on Sept 8th or would I have to give them a written 30 day notice to vacate?

    Thank you in advance

    • Bill Fitzgerald

      Pretty sure in Georgia you can give 30 day notice for any reason. But I am not a licensed attorney in Georgia, so you should get advice from an attorney in Georgia but it sure sounds like they might be setting you up to not pay rent because of habitability problems confirmed by the inspector (assuming he is government entity related). I would make sure that premises is in tip top condition before pressing the issue.

  • Lisa Roux

    If you sign a lease 10 days prior to the move in date and the house is also up for sale but the owner is needing to rent it can they rescind the lease agreement prior to the date of the lease move in date?

    Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lisa,

      You have to check your lease agreement to see what the “fine print” says. Typically, once a lease is signed, it is a binding contract, even if you haven’t taken possession of the property yet.

      I also recommend checking with a lawyer, which I am not.

      • Lisa Roux

        We have added an addendum to the end of the lease stating that the house was for sale and if it sold we would provide them a 30 day notice but would that be valid when the normally a landlord has to give them 60 days notice.

        Thanks
        Lisa

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Lisa,

          The state requirement to give 60 days notice is for tenancies at will.

          Assuming you are the landlord, if you have a fixed lease, you wouldn’t be able to terminate it until the lease has naturally expired – UNLESS, there is a provision in your lease with special circumstances – such as the sale of property.

          I can’t comment on the legality of it, but I can tell you that this type of addendum or provision is common in every state. I think it is the best way for a landlord to terminate a fixed term lease when the house is being sold.

          It’s worth mentioning that your addendum is only valid if the tenant has signed something, agreeing to it’s terms.

  • Cris

    We were in a lease purchase on a home with a $4500.00 non refundable deposit.
    we have lived in this home for three years,and after the first year of these the lease purchase of a 4500 sq. ft home,we have had many estimates to repair,up grade and or fix the needs for this home.estimates are in the 100k-125k to bring this home up to livable standards.We have decided not to pursue buying the home,and have a verbal contract with owners for a month to month rental,adhering to original lease purchase agreement.we are becoming empty nesters and have decided to look for a much smaller home,with far fewer bedrooms for our adult children not to return home as they please.
    My question is this…..The original non-refundable deposit of $4500.00, we would like to know our legal standings and any actions we have in using this as our last months rent as we find a smaller,less expensive dwelling.Our landlord will take us to court if we stop the rent payment to put towards the move in qualifications of another home.Are their preventative actions,and or re-buttals as this takes place that we can utilize to best use the non-refundable deposit that will not be returned? any Laws?,protections? we can research?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cris,

      A deposit (non-refundable or otherwise), is never supposed to be used for last month’s rent. By trying to allocate it to the last month’s rent, the bigger issue is that the tenant fails to pay rent as promised in the lease. Yes, the landlord has your deposit, but by not making that last rent payment, you are the one who would be violating the lease.

      If you didn’t pay your last month of rent, the landlord would likely terminate your lease immediately, and file for eviction if you don’t immediately move-out. If the eviction proceeds, you would have an eviction on your record, making it harder to rent anywhere else. The landlord would then likely take you to small claims court to sue you for the month of rent you didn’t pay. (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-50 and O.C.G.A. § 44-7-52)

      In Georgia, nonrefundable deposits are not allowed, however, your deposit was actually part of a lease purchase, which might have different allowances (but I’m not sure). (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-30)

      Since your situation is fairly complicated due to the original lease purchase contract, I suggest talking with a locally licensed attorney in your area. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice.

  • Todd Watkins

    Is there any laws that have to do with maximum occupancy? Like 11 people (6 adults & 5 children) in a 2 bedroom apartment that’s only 925 sqft.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Todd,

      These kind of zoning and occupancy laws are typically decided at the county level.

      I have no idea what county you are in, but 11 people in a 2bd sounds like it is probably in violation of the zoning laws for most US counties – especially if they are not all part of a single family.

      Contact your local county zoning/housing office to inquire further.

  • Tyler Sandbak

    Mr. Hall,
    If both my landlord and I have misplaced the lease agreement would it be considered renting month to month?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tyler,

      That’s an interesting question – and one that I’ve never received before. Since neither of you have any evidence of the existing lease, it stands to reason that you should both negotiate a new lease that mimics the old one as best as you can. Alternatively, you could make up a new lease with different terms – if you both are in agreement.

      Just because you both lost the lease doesn’t mean that it never existed. You should try to recreate it and honor the old terms – since that is what you both agreed to in the first place.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

  • S Anonymous

    Hi,

    I was in an 11 month lease and provided notice that I was not going to renew my lease. About a month before, I had a water heater leak. It was small but did require maintanence to use blowers. My Dad came in and looked at the apt and there was mold/ mildew all over the closet walls and I. The water heater room. He also found lots of mildew on the windows. He made me move out and notify the apt of the health issues. I’m an asthmatic and allergice to mold and mildew. Since I was moving out anyway, we told the apt there was no need to move me for less than one month. I thought everything ws fine until I got an eviction notice today. They want money from the beginning of the month Til the end of my lease. I feel like they mislead me and my dad. They accepted the keys and said the manager (who was never there ) would call me. She never did. I’ve talked to the apt complex and they say pay up. What should I do? Clearly, I dont live there and I thought I wa doing them a favor by letting them get I. There early and address the issues.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there

      I’m sorry to hear about the mold. Mold can be dangerous, but it’s hard to know how problematic it was without a test.

      Without some sort of written release from the leasing office, or a city/county order to vacate, a tenant is and should be held responsible for the full lease term. It doesn’t really matter if the tenant decides to move out.

      The responsibilty for the rent is separate from the fact the you moved out. You have to get approval from the landlord if you want to released from lease.

      In GA, a landlord does have a responsibility to mitigate damages to you but forcing you to pay 1 month of the lease after you move out is still considered reasonable in my opinion.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer not is this legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help and I wish I had better news for you. Definitely talk to a lawyer if you want to fight the management company.

  • Luke Norris

    What happen if the tenant schedule services like landscaping or pool service and does not pay before moving out? Is the landlord liable for payments to the pool service?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Luke

      I’m not really sure. If the work has already been performed, the service company should continue to send bills to the tenant. However with some types of work (I’m not sure which), the contractor can put a lien on the property until the debt is paid – which would be a worst case scenario.

      If you still have the tenants deposit, then I suggest using it to pay the debts, and returning the rest.

      I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice. A lawyer would be able to give you a definitive answer.

      Good luck Luke!

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