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Georgia Property Management Laws

Property management law in Georgia provides landlords, property owners and property managers with the information they require to offer safe housing across the state. Although crucial for owners and occupants, understanding these laws can be a little ambiguous. Moving to a new state or taking responsibility for locations in multiple states can often make understanding property law more confusing.

This guide intends to provide a general overview of the information contained in Georgia’s state laws and aims to answer common questions a landlord or tenant might have. It provides direct links to the Official Code of Georgia’s statutes current through the 2019 Regular Session of the General Assembly as well as helpful resources that further expound upon property laws. Review the following information when looking for a quick answer or to obtain information regarding additional resources about obligations for a property manager or landlord in the state of Georgia.

Key Points

  • 1 All property managers in the state of Georgia have a fiduciary responsibility to adhere to all aspects of state legislation and, in particular, property law.
  • 2 Property management companies are well versed in applicable laws and can help ensure compliance with all legislation.
  • 3 Property owners may wish to seek the expertise of property management professionals to find tenants, maintain premises and take care of the day-to-day operations to free up time for owners and property investors.
  • 4 Owners and investors should sign a legally binding contract with a property management company. This contract should clearly outline all agreed upon duties of the property manager, the fees associated and the procedure for work that falls outside of those duties.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Property Management Laws Overview in Georgia

Code Description
44-7-1 Rental Application Laws
8-3-203 Unlawful Denial Law
44-7-30 Security Deposit Laws
44-7-22 Service Member Lease Termination Law
44-7-23 Victims of Domestic Violence Lease Termination Law
44-7-50 Dispossessory Process Law
44-7-19 Rent and Late Fee Laws
44-7-3 Disclosure Laws
31-41-15 Lead Disclosure Law
44-7-20 Propensity of Flooding Law
44-7-13 Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

While there may exist federal, county or municipal laws that apply to the rental application, Georgia Landlord and Tenant code (44-7-1) allows application fees. Application fees are generally non-refundable and are separate from security deposits.

Can landlords request credit and criminal background checks?

In short yes, landlords have a broad discretion to ask prospective tenants for information regarding employment, credit and criminal records. To facilitate background checks rental applications may request a Social Security number, financial records and signed permission to conduct any investigations; however, credit reporting agencies in Georgia can supply financial information to landlords without tenant consent. 

Do discrimination laws apply to tenant screening?

In addition to the national Fair Housing Act prohibiting rental and sales discrimination, Georgia Fair Housing Law (8-3-203) make the rejection of tenancy based on race or religion unlawful. In addition to race and religion, the state code identifies the color, sex, disability, family status and national origin as discriminatory grounds for exclusion. 

Is it permissible to limit rental applications based on age?

To foster the development of senior housing initiatives in Georgia, age is a permissible limitation (8-3-205) provided the landlord or property manager adheres to the written provisions for operating a seniors housing unit (8-3-205b). 

Security Deposit Laws

Are additional move-in fees allowed?

Landlords may request move-in fees in Georgia, and there is no limit as to how much they can charge for these fees. If you do not wish to pay additional fees requested, your only recourse is to ask for further explanation of the fees or choose to pursue another rental.

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged?

Georgia does not put a limit on security deposits at the state level; however, city or county laws may set a specific dollar amount for security deposits on residential rental units. 

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy?

In Georgia, any landlord or property manager must hold a security deposit in an escrow account in a state-regulated or United States government bank or lending institution. The landlord must also provide, in writing, the location of the escrow account (44-7-31) to the tenant. Alternatively, the landlord may post and maintain a surety bond in the same county instead of an escrow account (44-7-32).

Exemptions from this legislation include landlords, their spouses or minor children who own 10 or fewer rental units and manage the properties and collect rent themselves (44-7-36).

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after a move out?

Regardless of how many rental units a landlord owns or whether or not the landlord uses a property manager, they must return any security deposit to the tenant within 30 days after vacation of the premises (44-7-34). 

What are the reasons a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit?

The landlord has three business days after the tenant vacates the rental to inspect the premises and compile a list of damages if any. The tenant may request to inspect the list and the premises within five business days and, if in agreement, will sign the list and deduct damages from the security deposit (44-7-33-b). 

If the tenant doesn’t agree with the list of damages submitted by the landlord, they may bring an action in court following Georgia Code Section 44-7-33 subsection (c). 

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit?

In the state of Georgia, if a landlord withholds any part of a security deposit, they are liable to the tenant for three times the sum of the amount withheld along with any attorney’s fees incurred to retrieve the full security deposit. However, if the landlord can prove that the withholding of a portion of the security deposit was made in error, they are only required to pay back the portion withheld (44-7-35-c). 

Are there any exceptions in which the tenant may forfeit the deposit?

After a final inspection of the vacated premises, the landlord must send the inspection list and the difference of the sum deposited and the amount retained for damages by first-class mail to the last known address of the tenant. If the landlord receives the letter and payment returned to the sender and has made reasonable effort to contact the tenant, the tenant forfeits the security deposit 90 days after mailing the payment (44-7-34-a). 

Laws About Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed?

There are no laws in Georgia that stipulate the length of a lease and terms can be set for any length of time provided that provisions are made as to how to terminate the lease as agreed by the tenant and the landlord. Additional regulations may apply to leases long than one year.

What happens if a tenant violates a lease?

A lease violation occurs in Georgia if a tenant commits acts such as criminal activity, destroys or damages the rental property, disturbs other tenants, violates house rules as stipulated by the landlord or refuses to allow a landlord to enter the premises to conduct maintenance. A landlord may choose to terminate a lease or try to evict. 

How much notice is required for a month-to-month lease termination?

A landlord or property management representative must give 60 days’ notice and a tenant must provide 30 days’ notice to terminate the tenancy with all lease terms including a month-to-month lease (44-7-7).

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty?

A tenant can only terminate a term lease without penalty in Georgia if they receive the landlord’s written authorization. Early termination fees may apply and will be upheld by the courts if:

  • The landlord’s damages as a result of the early termination are difficult to estimate
  • The tenant and landlord agree to fees to cover damages to the property
  • The early termination fees offer a reasonable estimate of damages

What happens if a tenant terminates a lease without landlord authorization?

In Georgia, a tenant has a duty to continue paying rent if they abandon the rental unit or terminate the lease early without written permission from the landlord or property manager. The tenant will have to continue paying rent until the end of the lease term if the landlord leaves the rental unit empty until the end-of-lease date. 

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease?

Georgia state law allows any service member to terminate a lease agreement with a written notice taking effect 30 days after the landlord receives the notice if any of the following is met (44-7-22): 

  • The tenant receives orders to move 35 miles or more from the location of the rental unit
  • The tenant is released from duty and plans to return to their home on record that is at least 35 miles or more from the rental unit
  • They receive orders to move into military quarters
  • Maintaining the rental unit will result in loss of the service member’s housing allowance
  • The service member receives orders to relocate 35 miles or more from rental location for duty for a period exceeding 60 days
  • They receive a change of orders and must relocate to an area 35 miles or more from the rental prior to taking possession of the unit

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence?

Georgia State Code 44-7-23 offers lease termination relief for victims of domestic violence with 30 days’ written notice of termination of lease agreements and residential real estate rentals that took effect on or after July 1, 2018.

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant?

In Georgia, a landlord does not have the authority to kick tenants out of a rental or prevent access to the rental unit without following the procedures set out in the court dispossessory process (44-7-50). During this process, the tenant may remain on the premises and the landlord cannot cut off utilities. Basis for eviction includes non-payment of rent or failure to vacate and the end of a lease. 

How much notice does a landlord have to give before making changes to the property that result in termination of the lease?

Although legislation does not specifically outline a timeframe for notice of changes, Georgia Code Section 44-7-13 states that a landlord must keep the premises in repair, and Section 44-7-24 outlines the tenants’ recourse options should the landlord not address concerns regarding the condition of the property.

Laws About Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent?

Landlords may increase the rent per a signed lease agreement provided the document is in effect and does not contravene state laws. For tenants without a rental agreement, the tenant-at-will code (44-7-7) requires 60 days’ notice for changes to the verbal or expired written contract. 

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants?

The state of Georgia offers no provision for rent control and, in fact, disallows any county or municipal law seeking to regulate rental amounts for all privately held homes and multi-unit dwellings (44-7-19). The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD stipulates “Fair Market Rents” for units in all jurisdictions across the country. Landlords wishing to rent to individuals holding Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers must adhere to HUD pricing guidelines. 

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee?

There are no state laws governing grace periods on overdue rental payments for tenants without a written lease — otherwise referred to as a tenant-at-will. Renters entering a lease agreement should ensure stipulation in the document for rental amounts, due dates and grace periods. 

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants?

Outside of a signed rental agreement, no provision is made to restrict late fees on overdue rental amounts. Generally, landlords will stipulate associated fees for late rent payment in a lease contract. 

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property?

Either before or upon commencement of occupancy, the landlord, agent or property manager must disclose to the tenant written notice of the names and addresses of the property owner, authorized agent and property manager (44-7-3) and must provide the tenant with any changes within 30 days either by writing or a visible posted notice.

Can the owner or landlord designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures on their behalf?

Owners or any person who enters into a rental agreement on behalf of the owner, landlord or both may serve and receive disclosures (44-7-3-b).

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply?

While Georgia doesn’t require landlords to disclose high concentrations of mold in rental properties, if a landlord fails to meet health and safety standards, the tenant may be able to get out of a lease through constructive eviction as discussed in the Department of Community Affairs Landlord Tenant Handbook

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply?

Landlords must present tenants with the approved Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home pamphlet from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and disclose lead paint and follow the proper process for abatement (31-41-14). State legislation also clearly outlines owner liability for rental units and premises constructed prior to 1978 (31-41-15). 

What information related to flooding are the landlord or property managers required to disclose?

In Georgia, a landlord or landlord’s agent must disclose the rental unit’s propensity of flooding (44-7-20). 

Laws About Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry?

There is no accommodation under Georgia State Landlord and Tenant Code for landlords to access the rental property. Rental agreements typically address requirements for access and notice provisions.   

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry?

A tenant may legally refuse a landlord to enter onto the rental property unless a signed and in-force lease agreement stipulates the conditions for access. Typically, it is in the tenant’s interest to work out some accommodation with the landlord. 

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable?

It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain a safe, habitable dwelling. Also, landlords are accountable for damages and loss arising from a failure to maintain the rented property (44-7-14). 

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain?

Georgia holds no provisions for amenities; however, any amenities existing on the property do fall under general maintenance guidelines (44-7-13) and must be kept in a reasonable and safe state of repair. In the case of long-term leases, a tenant agreement may list the amenities and common facilities made available and any rules governing use. 

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain?

Landlords must furnish utilities in the form of water, heat and lights (44-7-14.1). Further, it is unlawful for any landlord to suspend services to the rental unit until after the tenants’ disposition. 

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection?

No, landlords are not required to provide a certificate of inspection; however, there are disclosure laws meant to protect renters. County, municipal or federal laws may apply.

Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys?

While Georgia does not specify if the landlord has to provide locks and keys to the tenant at the state level, municipalities and counties may establish guidelines for occupant security and to create local laws provided those standards do not contravene state fire codes. Typically, the lease agreement addresses the issue of locks and keys and precludes the tenant from making changes without the landlord’s permission. 

Are retaliatory actions prohibited in Georgia?

Georgia State code does not cover retaliatory acts; however, the code is meant to protect the interests of both parties with general provisions that make the suspension of utilities unlawful while occupied (44-7-14.1b).  

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for?

Property managers and landlords must keep the premises in repair (44-7-13). Premises include the rental unit and common areas, and landlord responsibilities include maintaining the building, keeping the heating, plumbing and electric in good working order and exercising ordinary care to ensure the unit and access to the rental is safe for tenants.

How long does the landlord have to make repairs once a maintenance request is submitted by the tenant?

A landlord must make repairs within a reasonable timeframe determined by the severity and type of maintenance required. Consult federal, municipal or county laws for further information.

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for?

It is the tenants’ responsibility to return the premises to the landlord in the same condition as outlined in the move-in checklist apart from normal wear and tear and, as a general rule, must not substantially alter or permanently change any leased premises without written permission from the landlord or agent.  

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants?

The landlord is not responsible to fix damage caused by tenants, and it is recommended that renters acquire renters insurance to cover the costs of unforeseen damages. 

When does a landlord have to return and/or lower rent due to diminished rental value?

While Georgia does not have laws at the state level that govern the return or lowering of rental rates on units with diminished value, federal, county or municipal laws may apply. 

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions?

There are no official inspection request laws as they pertain to tenants in Georgia; however, if the landlord is not upholding agreed lease terms and living conditions become unsafe, constructive eviction laws may apply and allow a tenant to get out of a lease early. 

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord?

Under the Repair-and-Deduct program in Georgia, a tenant may opt to have a licensed technician carry out repairs and deduct the cost from future rent only if the landlord fails to address required maintenance within a reasonable timeframe after receiving notice of those repairs from the tenant in writing.

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance?

Georgia makes allowances for tenants to recover costs for specific relocation expenses either as part of a condemnation action or through a separate administrative proceeding. Federal, municipal or county legislation may apply. 

Who Is Exempt?

What provisions exist for service members?

Regular and reserve members of the United States armed forces, Coast Guard and Georgia National Guards receive exemptions to lease termination (44-7-22b). Georgia State law includes a list for breaking lease agreements, such as distance-to-home, deployment, order changes or issuance of temporary orders exceeding 60 days. 

What special provisions exist for short-term rentals?

Landlords of loft and studio apartments or those renting short term — less than 100 days — are exempt from lead hazards disclosure.   

Additional Rental Law Resources for the State of Georgia

These additional resources can help to educate tenants, landlords and property managers on the landlord-tenant laws in Georgia or provide assistance with questions and concerns.

Name Phone Number Description
Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook N/A A general overview of Georgia residential landlord-tenant law designed to answer common questions.
Housing Discrimination Hotline (800) 669-9777 Provides information regarding fair housing rights and accepts complaints against landlords and property management companies.
Georgia Department of Community Affairs (404) 679-4840 Provides access to safe, affordable housing for every Georgia citizen and educates renters about fair housing, equal opportunities and property management law.
Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) (800) 359-4663 Created by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, HCV, also referred to as Section 8, is a federally funded program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) designed to provide rental assistance to extremely low and low income families and individuals.
Lead Exposure Hotline (800) 424-LEAD (5323) Provides access to a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved pamphlet entitled Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home and answers questions regarding lead exposure.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.