Do you have a tenant that you need to get rid of?
A tenant who refuses to pay the rent and destroys the property is every tenant’s nightmare. When renting a property, you need to know that it will be taken care of.
Fortunately, you have the right to evict a tenant if they break the law in some way. However, it is important to understand the process of eviction in the United States and follow the steps to the letter. So, let’s take a closer look at the Georgia eviction process and laws, and the steps you can take to reclaim your property.
- A Complete Guide
- Illegal Evictions
- Serving a Notice to the Tenant
- Filing a Lawsuit with the Court
- The Typical Eviction Process Timeline
- Associated Court Fees
- More on Georgia Living
- Want More on Real Estate Laws and Practices?
- Final Thoughts
- Good Luck!
A Complete Guide
Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant
Before you confront the tenant, you need to make sure you’re in the right. You need to have a legally recognized reason for asking the tenant to move out. In addition to stating the reason, you also need to give a reasonable notice period.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons you could legally evict a tenant and the process.
Nonpayment of Rent
This is one of the most common reasons for evicting a tenant. If the rent is late, you need to give the tenant written or verbal notice of the amount due. This can be done on the day immediately after it is scheduled to be paid.
If no action is taken, you can then legally begin the eviction process. Once in progress, this must be paid within seven days of receiving paperwork from the court. The tenant will also be responsible for paying any court costs and late fees.
End of Lease or No Lease
You have the right to ask a tenant to leave your property at the end of their lease. If the tenant pays month-to-month, it’s best to do this sixty days before their lease ends. And if the tenant fails to leave at the end of the notice period, you can file an eviction lawsuit.
Violation of the Lease Terms
Before handing over the keys to your property, it is important to make the tenant sign a lease. This lease should clearly set out the responsibilities of the tenant and the terms of the contract. If they violate the terms, you can issue a verbal or written notice to vacate the property.
After issuing this notice, the tenant must either fix the violation or vacate the property. While you are not legally obligated to provide notice, it’s common practice to give the tenant three days. If no action has been taken after three days, you can legally start the eviction process.
Types of lease violations include:
- Refusing the landlord access to the property
- Damaging the property or landscape
- Failing to keep the property clean and sanitary
- Disturbing the peace
- Sharing the property with unauthorized pets and other occupants
- Removing plumbing, electrical, or other fixtures
Landlords have the right to evict tenants for conducting illegal activity on their property. If you are aware of illegal activity, you must serve the tenant an immediate notice to vacate. According to the law, the tenant must then move out immediately.
Types of illegal activity include:
- Selling or taking prohibited drugs
- Promoting or engaging in prostitution
- Operating any type of illegal business
- Subletting all or part of the property without permission
- Modifying the property without permission
It is illegal to forcibly remove a tenant in some way. And it is essential to take the prescribed steps and avoid taking the law into your own hands. Otherwise, you could be faced with a fine of $500 or worse.
Examples of forcible removal include:
- Turning off utilities
- Changing the locks
- Removing the tenant’s possessions
Serving a Notice to the Tenant
Before starting the eviction process, you must give the tenant proper notice. There are a few types of notice you can serve, depending on the circumstances. It is best to put the notice in writing and keep a copy for your personal records as evidence.
Methods of serving a notice include:
- Mail the notice to the tenant
- Email the notice to the tenant
- Hand the notice to the tenant
Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent
You can serve this notice on the day after the rent is due. If the tenant refuses to pay all or part of the rent, you can then start court proceedings immediately. However, it is best to wait three days before taking the issue further.
60-day Notice to Vacate
This notice lets the tenant know that they have to move out within sixty days. This gives them enough time to find a new rental property. If the tenant refuses to move out at the end of sixty days, you can then take the issue to court.
Notice to Comply or Vacate
You can serve this notice any time a tenant violates the terms of the rental contract. There is no obligation to allow the tenant to fix the issue. The tenant is legally obligated to move out the moment they receive this notice.
Immediate Notice to Vacate
This notice can be served if the tenant conducts illegal activity on the premises. The tenant is then legally obligated to move out immediately. If they refuse, you can then go to your local courthouse and start legal proceedings.
Filing a Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant refuses to comply with your request to move out, you need to file a dispossessory affidavit. This must be done in the appropriate court, and the filing fees are between $60 and $75. Your case will then be reviewed, and the tenant will be served a summons if you have a legitimate claim.
Let’s take a look at the additional steps in the court procedure.
An Answer is Filed
Tenants must reply to the affidavit and summons verbally or in writing within seven days of issue. If the tenant doesn’t respond, a default judgment will be made in favor of the landlord. If the tenant responds, they will have the opportunity to explain why they shouldn’t be evicted.
A Court Hearing is Held
Tenants have the right to contest the eviction notice in a court hearing. Once a date is set, the tenant is legally obligated to attend and state their case. A default judgment will be made in favor of the landlord if the tenant fails to attend the court hearing.
A writ of possession is issued. If the court rules in favor of the landlord, they will issue a writ of possession. This is the tenant’s final notice to remove their possessions and leave. If the tenant fails to do this before the specified date, they will be forcibly removed by a sheriff.
Your Possession of the Property is Returned
This is the final stage in the process. Once the sheriff has forcibly removed the tenant, you are free to list your property for rent again. However, you might need to get the property professionally cleaned and do some repair work first.
The Typical Eviction Process Timeline
It typically takes between one and three months to legally complete an eviction in the state of Georgia. However, it can take longer if the eviction is contested. There are also other potential delays, such as public holidays.
The typical time periods for steps include:
- Initial notice period – up to 60 days
- Court issuing summons – 3 to 21 business days
- Court serving summons – 3 to 21 Business days
- Tenant response period – 7 business days
- Court ruling – 3 to 21 business days
- Court serving a writ of possession – 7 business days
- Final notice period – 3 to 21 business days
Associated Court Fees
Legal proceedings always come at a cost, and you need to make sure you can afford them. Eviction cases have to be filed in a Magistrate’s Court, and the service fee is $181. However, there are other costs that you need to prepare for.
Typical court fees include:
- Initial court filing – at least $56+
- Summons service – around $50
- Writ of possession service – $25
- Writ of possession execution – $50
- Notice of appeal filing – optional service, at least $198
More on Georgia Living
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Want More on Real Estate Laws and Practices?
No problem! Check out our answer to What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do, and how having one can help you avoid going through nasty eviction processes again.
Or perhaps, after completing your eviction process, it’s now time to decide on a new tenant; you might find yourself nervous about the same issue happening again. Enter the Rental History Report: What is it? & How to Check it for Free.
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OK, back to…
Asking a tenant to leave after they have signed a contract can be difficult. There is always the risk that the tenant could become angry or even violent. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you understand the law and follow the prescribed steps.
After serving the tenant a written notice, you can file a complaint with the court. If the case goes to court, a writ of possession is issued, and the tenant will be forced to leave. The entire process can take between one and three months, and it’s best to avoid going to court if possible.