Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen
If you’re a tenant in Georgia, it’s important to understand the state’s laws regarding security deposits. Georgia landlord tenant law on security deposit outlines the rules and regulations landlords must follow when collecting and returning security deposits.
By understanding these laws, you can protect your rights and ensure you receive your deposit back when you move out.
Under Georgia law, landlords are allowed to charge a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt for the deposit, and must also provide a written statement of the condition of the rental unit at the time the tenant moves in.
This statement must include a description of any existing damage or defects in the unit. When the tenant moves out, the landlord must provide a written itemized list of any deductions from the security deposit, along with the remaining balance.
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Understanding Georgia’s Security Deposit Laws
Legal Framework of Security Deposits
As a landlord in Georgia, you are required by law to collect a security deposit from your tenant. Georgia’s security deposit laws are governed by Code Section 44-7-33 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A).
This law outlines the legal framework for security deposits and sets rules for both landlords and tenants.
Maximum Security Deposit and Additional Fees
Georgia law limits the maximum security deposit that a landlord can collect to two months’ rent. Landlords are not allowed to charge additional fees such as pet fees or cleaning fees as part of the security deposit.
However, landlords can charge an additional pet deposit, but it cannot exceed one month’s rent.
Security Deposit Holding Requirements
Georgia law requires landlords to hold the security deposit in an escrow account or post a surety bond. The security deposit must be returned to the tenant within one month of the lease termination, and landlords must provide an itemized list of any deductions made from the deposit.
In summary, as a landlord in Georgia, you must follow the legal framework set by Code Section 44-7-33 O.C.G.A. You can only collect a security deposit of up to two months’ rent, and you cannot charge additional fees as part of the security deposit. You must hold the deposit in an escrow account or post a surety bond and return it to the tenant within one month of lease termination.
Procedures for Security Deposit Returns and Deductions
When it comes to returning security deposits, Georgia law requires landlords to follow specific procedures. Here are the steps you need to take to ensure a smooth process:
Assessment of Damages and Normal Wear and Tear
Before making any deductions from the security deposit, landlords must assess the property for damages beyond normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of a property that occurs over time due to ordinary use.
Any damages caused by negligence, carelessness, or abuse are not considered normal wear and tear. These are excessive damages that you can hold the tenant liable for.
Itemized Deductions and Tenant’s Rights
If you plan to make deductions from the security deposit, you must provide the tenant with an itemized list of deductions within 30 days of the lease termination.
The list should include the amount of each deduction, the reason for the deduction, and any remaining balance. Tenants have the right to dispute any deductions they believe are unwarranted.
Legal Recourse and Dispute Resolution
If a tenant disagrees with the deductions made from their security deposit, they can take legal action. The first step is to send a written notice to the landlord demanding the return of the deposit. If the landlord fails to respond or refuses to return the deposit, the tenant can file a lawsuit in small claims court. The judge or jury will determine the equitable disposition of the deposit.
Remember to conduct a walk-through inspection with the tenant before they move out and provide them with a written statement of any existing damage. Also, make sure to send the security deposit return and any deductions via first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address.
By following these procedures, you can avoid legal disputes and ensure a fair return of the security deposit.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.