How Long Does It Take to Evict A Tenant In Georgia?
On average, a Georgia eviction can take anywhere between 14 - 80 days from the initial notice period to the return of possession. Several factors can affect how long it will take you to evict a tenant, including the terms of the lease, how quickly the paperwork is filed to the court, how long it takes to procure a winning court case and Writ of Possession, as well as how quickly court officials can respond to the Writ of Possession. Special circumstances, such as tenant disagreement and appeals for reconsideration, will significantly lengthen this process even more.
How to Evict a Tenant in Georgia
1. Understand the Grounds for Eviction
The first step to evict a tenant in Georgia is to have a proper reason for the eviction. The most common ground for eviction is nonpayment of rent; however, violating any part of the rental agreement can constitute grounds for eviction. This can include damaging rental property, keeping more than an agreed-upon number of pets, engaging in criminal activity, smoking in a nonsmoking home, violating acknowledged house rules, or any other term outlined in the signed lease. Holdover tenants, or tenants who have stayed longer than agreed without renewal, are also at liberty to be evicted.
2. Give the Tenant a Written Notice
The next step in the Georgia eviction process is to serve the tenant with proper notice. Georgia law does not require a written eviction notice; a landlord is legally allowed to give oral notice to the tenant. However, a written “Notice to Comply” is usually best, as it provides concrete evidence that the notice was issued.
Georgia Eviction Notice Requirements
A written notice should include the following items: the date it was served; names and addresses of all tenants in the unit; the reason for the notice; the total amount of rent past due (if any); any additional fees due (if any); how long the tenant has to pay the rent and late charges before the landlord begins eviction proceedings; and a statement describing how the notice was given to the tenant.
There is no specified way a tenant must be given this notice. However, landlords will usually either hand it to the tenant personally, post it to the front door (or some other conspicuous location), or mail a copy of the notice to the tenant through certified mail. Therefore, any photos and/or receipts should be kept as evidence for any resulting dispossessory proceedings.
How Long After Serving Notice Can You File For Eviction in Georgia?
While other states require a landlord to wait a specific number of days before they can evict a tenant after notice, Georgia leaves this key element up to the individual landlord. In other words, there is no set amount of time a landlord must wait between serving a written eviction notice and filing a lawsuit with the court. However, in cases of nonpayment, it is considered best practice to give the tenant at least three days before filing the lawsuit. This way, they have time to either pay the late rent and associated fees or vacate the premises.
3. File A Complaint With The Court
If a tenant refuses to either pay the owed rent or move out of the home during the specified amount of time, a landlord can begin the official eviction process. Eviction complaints, or dispossessory affidavits, are required to begin this process and should be filed with the local Magistrate Court. These complaints are given under oath by either the landlord or their attorney and serve to testify against a tenant for their unlawful possession of a property. Filing fees typically cost between $60.00-$75.00 in total.
This paperwork must be filled out correctly, as any mistakes will likely lengthen the time it takes to evict the tenant. Therefore, while a landlord can file this paperwork themselves, it is advisable to have a real estate attorney handle it.
A complaint must be filed, and a court order must be properly obtained before evicting a tenant; landlords are not permitted to evict a tenant themselves. All self-help and forceful evictions are illegal in the state of Georgia, including cutting off the tenant’s utilities, changing the locks, and vandalizing/destroying the tenant’s property. Any of these illegal evictions can cause a landlord to become responsible for both the tenant’s court costs and attorney’s fees and can give the tenant the right to remain in the property.
4. Serve the Tenant
After properly submitting a complaint, the court will issue a Landlord-Tenant (Dispossessory) Affidavit. A copy of this document will be delivered to a tenant by a local Sheriff. Or, if the tenant is unavailable, a copy can be sent through certified mail.
After receiving the Dispossessory Affidavit, the tenant will have 7 days to respond to the court. If the tenant fails to provide a written or oral response, the landlord wins by default, and an eviction may be requested on the eighth day. If the tenant does respond, a court date will be set, and the tenant will be notified of this via certified mail.
5. Attend the Trial
The date of trial will entirely depend upon the court’s availability. While waiting for the court date, it’s important to both prepare a strong argument and gather all concrete evidence against the tenant. Lease terms, photos of damaged property, data from security cameras, and evidence of nonpayment are all great examples of hard evidence which will help a landlord win their case. The tenant will likely try to deny any claims against them, so be ready with all text messages, bank statements, voicemail messages, and anything else that can prove your version of events is correct.
6. Retake Possession of the Property
The landlord will be issued a Writ of Possession within 7 days of winning their case. This Writ of Possession gives the tenant at least 7 days to vacate the premises. If the tenant refuses to leave, court officials will have to remove them forcefully whenever they can. This can be immediate, or it could take longer – it all just depends on how quickly they can act. Any leftover items belonging to the tenant can be immediately disposed of after they have officially vacated.
Georgia Eviction Alternatives
When facing a non-compliant tenant, many landlords try to avoid expensive, lengthy evictions by offering what’s known as “cash for keys,” where they pay the tenant an agreed amount to move out. This often eliminates the need to involve the court – but not always. If a tenant declines this generous offer, a formal eviction through the court will be necessary.
The Georgia Eviction Process: Bottom Line
If you have a non-compliant tenant, time is of the essence. It’s important to take immediate action and avoid adding unnecessary length to the process. Remember that while an eviction can be managed personally, it’s usually better to have a local real estate attorney handle it. This way, you save yourself time and frustration by ensuring that all laws are properly followed and all paperwork is filled out correctly the first time.
Georgia Eviction Laws FAQ
How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out in Georgia?
In non-eviction cases, a landlord is required to give tenants a 60-day notice. However, after issuing an eviction notice, there is no specified amount of time a landlord must give their tenants before filing an official complaint.
Can you be evicted in 3 days in Georgia?
Yes. While it is considered best practice to give tenants 3 days between serving a notice and filing an official complaint, it is not required by Georgia law.
How many days do you have to move out after an eviction notice in Georgia?
After their landlord receives a Writ of Possession, a tenant has 7 days to peacefully vacate the premises.
Can you be evicted without notice in Georgia?
No. Evictions without notice are illegal in the state of Georgia. Notices must be given either orally or in writing.