Georgia requires landlords to follow certain laws that protect the rights of the tenants. When seeking to evict a tenant, landlords should not resort to vigilante justice, such as putting a tenant's property outside the property to force them to leave. While a well-written lease agreement will address a landlord's and tenant's rights and responsibilities, eviction rights and procedures are listed in the Georgia state code in Chapter Seven, Title 44, Article Three.
When to Evict
George law states that landlords can start eviction procedures on tenants when rent is not paid. In general, if the rent is not paid by the date specified in a lease or other agreement, the landlord must demand the rent be paid in full by a set date. If the tenant does not pay by the scheduled date a landlord can demand the tenant to leave within 30 days. At the end of the 30 day period if the tenant has not left, the landlord can start the legal eviction process, called dispossessory procedures in Georgia. Further, tenants who break certain rules in their lease agreement can be evicted within the same 30 day notice period as non-payers if they do not attempt to fix the problem. Landlords also have the right to request eviction of tenants who not only fail to leave at the scheduled end of their lease but also have not renewed their lease. A 30-day notice is not required for this type of eviction because a tenant knows, at the beginning of the lease, the scheduled move-out date.
Using Law Enforcement
Georgia landlords cannot resort to "self-help evictions" (changing the locks or employing other maneuvers, such as turning off all utilities) to prevent a tenant from entering a property. Legal evictions must be processed through the courts. Landlords have the right to ask -- in writing or in person -- that a tenant vacate the property within 30 days, if a tenant is not following the terms of a lease. If a tenant refuses to move, the landlord may visit the local magistrate and have a sheriff serve a summons to the tenant. The summons gives the tenant seven days to either leave or answer why he thinks he should not be evicted or why he believes he does not owe rent. If, at the end of the seven days, the case defaults to the landlord, the sheriff can remove the tenant.
Right to Compensation
A Georgia landlord may be compensated for owed rent and utilities after the eviction process is complete. The landlord has to allow the tenant to pay the owed monies to the court. If the court rules in favor of the landlord the money will be released and can be used to pay those expenses. Landlords can not accept money directly from a tenant during the eviction process or else they will void the time line and may even establish a new rental term.