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By Patrick Price
Updated on May 27, 2022
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff, Staff Editor.
The civil codes that govern the eviction process in Georgia are somewhat biased in favor of the landlord. Once they decide they want you gone, your landlord can secure an eviction hearing in a matter of days. As a tenant, though, you still have rights.
The past few years have seen some unprecedented financial upheaval. Global pandemics, war, and strained trade relations have had a serious impact on the economy—as a result, many Georgians are in imminent danger of being evicted from their homes.
Now more than ever, it's vital for you to be aware of your rights as a tenant. But, unfortunately, property law can be a bit confusing to those not fluent in legalese.
To make things a little clearer, Jerry—the super app that saves users hundreds on car and renters insurance—has compiled this guide to Georgia's eviction laws and procedures. We'll translate that dense legal jargon to ensure you're equipped to combat wrongful eviction.
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Georgia eviction 101: the three ways you can be evicted
A landlord cannot evict you simply because they feel like it. According to Georgia civil code, a landlord may only evict a tenant for one of these three reasons:
- Nonpayment of Rent: The landlord can initiate an eviction process if a tenant has not paid rent by the due date. Unless the lease terms specify a grace period, the landlord can begin eviction the day after rent is due. They must provide verbal or written notice to the resident first; however, it is not required for the landlord to give the tenant any specific amount of time to pay the past-due amount. They can demand payment within any timeframe they like.
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement: If the tenant violates the rental agreement, the landlord can begin the eviction process. They have to provide written or verbal notice first, but they do not have to allow the tenant an opportunity to correct the violations.
- No Lease / End of Lease: If the tenant does not have a lease or if their lease has expired, the landlord can begin the eviction process. If the tenant has remained in the property past the end of their lease, the landlord may begin eviction immediately after providing written or verbal notification. If the tenant is an "at-will" resident, on the other hand, then the landlord must give them 60 days' notice.
One or more of these conditions must be met, or else the landlord cannot legally evict the tenant. Of course, they can always choose not to renew the lease when it expires. The tenant may avoid eviction by paying past-due amounts or resolving lease violations —but the landlord is not required to give them that opportunity.
If the situation is not resolved, the tenant must vacate the premises by the date specified in the eviction notice. If they refuse to leave, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
Key Takeaway It's illegal in Georgia for a landlord to evict a tenant without proper cause and without being issued a "writ of possession" from the court.
A timeline of eviction in Georgia
Once an eviction lawsuit is initiated, the process can become pretty draw-out. Exactly how long it takes to resolve the suit varies from case to case. In general, this is what the timeline of an eviction looks like in Georgia:
|Step||How long it typically takes||What to expect|
|Eviction notice from landlord||In as little as one day from the time of the infraction||Written or verbal notice from the landlord informing the tenant of imminent eviction.|
|Summons and Complaint||As little as one day||After a lawsuit is filed, the tenant will be served with a court summons.|
|Tenant response||7 days||The tenant has seven days to respond to the summons before the court makes its ruling|
|Hearing||8-25 days after the hearing request||Based on the landlord's statement, the tenant's response, and any relevant evidence, the court will decide on the case.|
|Eviction||Withing 30 days from the time of the verdict||If the court finds in favor of the landlord, they will issue a "writ of possession" authorizing the landlord to remove the tenant from the premises. The landlord must execute this writ no sooner than seven days after the ruling and no later than 30 days after the verdict. The landlord may request assistance from the sheriff or other local law enforcement to help with tenant removal—but doing so is not required.|
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Many states require landlords to allow tenants some time to resolve problems before proceeding with an eviction. In Georgia, however, this is not the case. The landlord can initiate eviction almost immediately. Because of this, eviction proceedings can move very quickly in the Peach State.
How to resist eviction in Georgia
While the law may be screwed in favor of the landlord, you still have rights. If you’re facing possible eviction, there are some ways that you can try to fight back. Here’s what you can do:
- Resolve the cause of the eviction: Most landlords just want you to pay your rent on time and follow the lease rules. Evicting a tenant is expensive and most landlords would rather rescind their eviction notice if you can pay all outstanding balances and/or resolve any lease violations.
- Point out a procedural mistake: Landlords don't always follow proper eviction procedures. If your landlord breaks protocol, there's a good chance you can convince the court to dismiss the eviction suit. It can be things like changing locks, shutting off utilities, not providing proper notification, etc.
- Argue that the landlord failed to maintain the property: You can sometimes win an eviction suit if you can show that the landlord has not been living up to their duties as defined by law and lease agreement—you can even consider suing your landlord right back!
- Appeal the court's ruling: If the court rules against you, you have seven days to file an appeal of the decision. That way, you will have another chance to plead your case.
You'll have plenty of chance to make your case between the initial trial, the appeal, and your own potential suit against the landlord. If you're able to successfully prove that the landlord is guilty of wrongful eviction, negligence, or other misconduct, you may be able to avoid eviction. Even better, if you win the case, your landlord will be required to pay damages and court fees.
How to save money on Georgia car and renters insurance
The leading cause of eviction in Georgia is the nonpayment of rent. Unfortunately, with an uncertain economy and rising rent prices, falling behind on payments can be all too easy.
One way that tenants have been reducing expenses is by finding more affordable insurance options—doing so is fast and easy when you download the free Jerry app!
Jerry, the insurance comparison super app, is an expert at saving your time and money on car insurance, renters insurance, and more! In fact, Jerry users save an average of $800+ a year! In just 45 seconds, Jerry can help you find the best coverage and the lowest prices available for all types of insurance.
Jerry can also help you bundle your various policies—which should earn you a nice discount on each! We've even got some great tips on how you can cut back on all your car-related expenses!
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