Last Updated: August 19, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza
Steps of the eviction process in Georgia:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Answer is filed.
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
- Writ of possession is issued.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
Evicting a tenant in Georgia can take around one to three months, depending on the type of eviction and whether tenants file an answer. If an appeal is filed, the process will take longer.
Questions? To chat with a Georgia eviction attorney, click here
Grounds for an Eviction in Georgia
In Georgia,a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or not upholding responsibilities under Georgia law. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
|Nonpayment of Rent||No Statute||Maybe|
|End of / No Lease||60 Days||No|
|Lease Violation||No Statute||Maybe|
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Georgia, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first provide verbal or written notice to vacate the premises.
Georgia law doesn’t specify how much notice must be given to the tenant; however, it’s common practice to provide the tenant with at least a 3 days’ notice.
However, a tenant can stop the eviction process if they pay rent in full (plus all late fees and court costs) within 7 days of receiving the eviction paperwork (i.e., summons) from the court.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Georgia the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.
Once rent is past due, the landlord must provide verbal or written notice to the tenant prior to beginning an eviction action.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Georgia, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (60 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease Terms or Responsibilities
In Georgia, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Georgia landlord-tenant law. Landlords are not required to allow tenants to correct a lease violation in these instances, but they must provide tenants with a written notice prior to beginning an eviction action.
A notice period is not specified at the state level; however, if the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Not damaging the property.
- Not cutting or destroying growing trees.
- Not removing permanent fixtures.
Typical lease violations under this category include:
- Damaging the rental property.
- Removing trees.
- Removing fixtures.
Illegal Evictions in Georgia
In Georgia, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount equal to one month’s rent, plus $500, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining about habitability issues to the landlord or governmental entity.
- Filing a complaint to a government authority.
- Joining a tenant’s union or organization.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Georgia by serving the tenant with written or verbal notice. Georgia law doesn’t specify how an eviction notice must be delivered at the state level; however, it’s common practice to provide the tenant with a written notice through one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person.
- Leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence with an adult who lives there.
- Mailing a copy via first class mail.
- Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit and mailing a copy via first class mail with a return receipt.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent
If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Georgia, the landlord can serve them a Notice to Quit for Nonpayment of Rent. Georgia law doesn’t specify a notice period; however, it is common practice to give at least 3 days’ notice.
Note, if a tenant pays rent in full (plus late fees and court costs) within 7 calendar days after the court issues a summons, the eviction process will stop.
60-Day Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Georgia, the landlord must serve them a60-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 60 calendar days to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, notice is not required.
Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
In Georgia, if a tenant commits a violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance. Georgia law doesn’t specify a notice period; however, it is common practice to give at least 3 days’ notice.
Questions? To chat with a Georgia eviction attorney, click here
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
As the next step in the eviction process, Georgia landlords must file a dispossessory affidavit or warrant in the appropriate court. In the state of Georgia, the filing fees range from $60-$75.
A judge, clerk, deputy clerk of the magistrate court may issue the summons and affidavit. These documents must be served on the tenant by the Sheriff or process server; prior to the hearing through one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy at the tenant’s residence with an adult who lives there; or
- After reasonable effort, it may be served by posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit AND mailing a copy via first class mail.
Tenants who are being evicted for nonpayment of rent will have 7 days after the date they received the summons to pay all past-due rent in full in order to avoid eviction.
A few days to a few weeks. Georgia law doesn’t state how quickly the summons must be served on the tenant once the affidavit is filed with the court.
Step 3: Answer is Filed
Tenants in Georgia must respond to the summons and affidavit either in writing or verbally within 7days of the date summons was issued. If a tenant gives a verbal response, it must be written down on a copy of the affidavit.
If the tenant does not respond to the affidavit, the court will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, and the tenant will not be allowed to go to a court hearing.
If the tenant does answer the affidavit, the court will schedule a hearing and the tenant will be allowed to explain why they feel they should not be evicted.
7 days. Tenants have seven days after the date the summons is issued to file a written answer or give a verbal response to the affidavit.
Step 4: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment
Georgia law doesn’t specify how soon an eviction hearing must be held after an affidavit is filed with the court or after a tenant’s response is received by the court. It will depend on how busy the trial court’s hearing schedule is.
If the tenant does not appear for the hearing, or does not respond to the complaint, the court will issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord and the tenant will be required to move out.
If the judicial officer rules in favor of the landlord at the eviction hearing, a writ of possession will be issued, and the eviction will proceed.
Tenants have 7 days to appeal the judgment in order to avoid eviction.
A few days to a few weeks, depending on the court’s schedule and whether the ruling is appealed.
Step 5: Writ of Possession Is Issued
The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and allows them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the property to forcibly remove them.
If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, the landlord will ask the court to issue a writ of possession. The writ will be issued 7 days after the judgment in favor of the landlord.
If the tenant remains in the rental unit after the writ is issued, possession of the rental unit will be forcibly returned to the landlord.
7 days. The writ of possession will be issued seven days after the judgment in favor of the landlord.
Step 6: Possession of Property is Returned
Georgia law doesn’t state how quickly a sheriff or constable is required to act on a writ of possession once it has been received from the court. It could take officers a few days to a few weeks to remove the tenant depending on how many other evictions are already scheduled.
Questions? To chat with a Georgia eviction attorney, click here
Georgia Eviction Process Timeline
In Georgia, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 3 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Georgia eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||~60 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing Summons||~3-21 Business Days|
|Court Serving Summons||~3-21 Business Days|
|Tenant Response Period||7 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||~3-21 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||7 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||~3-21 Business Days|
Flowchart of Georgia Eviction Process
- 1 GA Code §44-7-50 (2020)
(a) …such owner may…demand the possession of the property…If the tenant refuses or fails to deliver possession when so demanded, the owner or the agent…may immediately go before the judge…or the clerk or deputy clerk…or a magistrate…and make an affidavit under oath to the facts…
- 2 GA Code §44-7-7 (2020)
Sixty days’ notice from the landlord or 30 days’ notice from the tenant is necessary to terminate a tenancy at will.
- 3 GA Code § 44-7-11 (2020)
The tenant has no rights beyond the use of the land and tenements rented to him and such privileges as are necessary for the enjoyment of his use. He may not cut or destroy growing trees, remove permanent fixtures, or otherwise injure the property. He may use dead or fallen timber for firewood and the pasturage for his cattle.
- 4 GA Code § 44-7-24 (2020)
e. In addition to any other remedies provided for by law, if a landlord retaliates against a tenant pursuant to this Code section, such retaliation shall be a defense to a dispossessory action, and the tenant may recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month’s rent plus $500.00, court costs, reasonable attorney’s fees where the conduct is willful, wanton, or malicious, and declaratory relief less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.
- 5 GA Code § 44-7-24 (2020)
1. In good faith exercised or attempted to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to such tenant by contract or law;
2. Gave a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy under this chapter;
3. Complained to a governmental entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes or a public utility, and the tenant:
A. Claims a building or housing code violation or utility problem that is the duty of the landlord to repair; and
B. Acts in good faith in that a reasonable person would believe that the complaint is valid and that the violation or problem occurred; or
4. Established, attempted to establish, or participated in a tenant organization to address problems related to the habitability of the property, such as life, health, or safety concerns.
- 6 GA Code §44-7-51 (2020)
(a) …shall be personally served upon the defendant. If the sheriff is unable to serve the defendant personally, service may be had by delivering the summons…to any person…residing on the premises or…by posting a copy…on the door of the premises and, on the same day of such posting, by…mailing by first-class mail a copy of the summons…to the defendant…
- 7 GA Code §44-7-52 (2020)
(a)…in an action for nonpayment of rent, the tenant shall be allowed to tender to the landlord, within seven days of the day the tenant was served with the summons…all rents allegedly owed plus the cost of the dispossessory warrant…
- 8 GA Code §44-7-51 (2020)
(b) The summons…shall command and require the tenant to answer either orally or in writing within seven days from the date of the actual service…If the answer is oral, the substance thereof shall be endorsed on the dispossessory affidavit. The answer may contain any legal or equitable defense or counterclaim…
- 9 GA Code §44-7-55 (2020)
Any judgment by the trial court shall be appealable pursuant to Chapters 2, 3, 6, and 7 of Title 5, provided that any such appeal shall be filed within seven days of the date such judgment was entered and provided…
- 10 GA Code §44-7-55 (2020)
(a) …The court shall issue a writ of possession, both of execution for the judgment amount and a writ to be effective at the expiration of seven days after the date such judgment was entered, except as otherwise provided in Code Section 44-7-56.
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