when does a guest become a tenant in Georgia?

When Does A Guest Become A Tenant In Georgia?

Spread the knowledge

Last Updated on May 27, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen

Has a guest overstayed their welcome and, despite your nudges, has refused to leave your Georgia home? As a landlord, this situation can create a slew of challenges for you.

Because, getting rid of them may not exactly be as easy as locking them out, throwing out their personal belongings, or shutting down utilities to force them to leave on their own. Matter of fact, these are examples of illegal “self-help” eviction tactics that may land you in legal hot soup.

In today’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know regarding when a guest becomes a tenant in Georgia and what you can do.

When Does a Guest Become a Tenant in Georgia?

To answer this question, we must first understand a few things. Including, the difference between a guest and a tenant, and when a guest obtains a tenancy status as per GA law.

Guest Vs. Tenant – What is the Difference?

The difference between a guest and a tenant essentially boils down to the length of stay and the legal agreement. Below is a table that summarizes the common differences.

Guests only stay for a few days or a week.Tenants live for a set period, usually months or even years as per the terms of the lease.
There is no contractual agreement involved.There is a contractually binding agreement that specifies the terms of tenancy.
Guests don’t pay rent. However, they can choose to chip in for utilities of groceries out of their own volition.Tenants have to pay rent to continue having the right to live on the property.
Guests have limited rights.Tenants have certain rights as per the state law and lease agreement.

Can a guest become a tenant under Georgia law?

As per Georgia law (GA Code Title 44 Chapter 7), a person can become a tenant under Georgia law in either of three ways. That is, if there is a written lease, a verbal agreement, or if you accept a payment as rent.

There is an exception to this, though, that may allow a guest to become a legal tenant as well. Even if you don’t charge the guest any rent, a landlord-tenant relationship may be created when you give the guest the right to stay at your property. If you didn’t set out a specific end date, then there might be a tenancy-at-will.

Now, tenants at will enjoy certain rights under Georgia law. Including, the right to proper notification before lease termination. And specifically, you must provide the tenant with a 60 days’ notice to quit. This will give the guest-cum-tenant 60 days to move out of the premises.

If they don’t move out within the 60 days, you’ll have no other option but to file a dispossessory warrant in an appropriate court to remove them. In Georgia, this process can take anywhere between a month and 3 months to complete. It can also take more if the tenant chooses to fight it or appeal against a successful judgment.

You will also have to give the tenant the same notice (60 days) if you’d be willing to charge them rent. This will also start a new tenancy-at-will requiring rent payments.

How to Prevent a Guest from Becoming a Guest in Georgia

First and foremost, set a specific end date. The end date should be clear from the get-go. Clearly state the duration you’re allowing the guest to stay in your Georgia home. Preferably, have this in writing (think: text conversations) should you need to adduce evidence in court.

Secondly, if the tenant refuses to leave after their time is up, serve them a 60 days’ notice to terminate their tenancy at will. If the tenant refuses to leave again, consider evicting them. The following is a basic overview of the process you’ll need to follow.

  • Serve them with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
  • File a dispossessory affidavit in court.
  • Attend court hearing.
  • Obtain a writ of possession and have the tenant removed by a sheriff.

The eviction process against the tenant should be relatively easy, due to their lack of any legal paperwork to live on the property. Ideally, hire an experienced lawyer to walk you through the eviction exercise.


So, when does a guest become a tenant in Georgia? As can be seen, a guest can become a tenant if the landlord fails to set a specific end date, resulting in a tenancy at will. And at that point, you will need to serve the tenant with a 60-day notice to terminate their tenant-at-will tenancy. Longer if the guest-cum-tenant refuses to leave after the 60 days are over.

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.

Sources: Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook,  GA Code Title 44 Chapter 7

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *