Residential Lease Agreements

Nemat Law Firm Team

Does Georgia Law Require Written Leases?

Georgia law does not require written leases for agreements of one year or less. If the rental agreement extends one year, then a written lease is required. Oral agreements are legal in the state of Georgia, however, formal written agreements are recommended. Georgia law requires that the rental property description and the contact information of all parties involved to be enlisted with the agreement.

What Is the General Lease Preparation and Negotiation Process?

The general lease preparation and negotiation process ensues as the potential resident applies to be a tenant. The landlord performs a credit check and a background check. Additionally, the landlord must ensure that a violation of the Fair Housing Act– the discrimination against those with criminal backgrounds–does not occur. Generally, the landlord will compose a standard lease. A Georgia Association of Realtors lease template is used with the involvement of a broker. For a multi-unit residential development, the building rules and landlord-specific rules must be attached to the lease.

Should I Consult With an Attorney Before Signing the Lease?

Yes, one should consult with an attorney before signing a lease. This is because in the state of Georgia tenant rights are especially limited. Therefore, consulting with an attorney is impactful. Additionally, tenants should consult an attorney to ensure that a lease fulfills the requirements of Georgia law and refers to the specific type of property.

How Can Landlords Prohibit Tenants From Unilateral Alterations to the Property?

Landlords can prohibit tenants from unilateral alterations by incorporating premises within “AS IS” conditions, which possesses contingency to the implied warranty of habitability. This warranty requires landlords to maintain a habitable living environment. During the negotiation process, terms, including installations of signs and advertisements, alterations to paint color, and additional escrowed money, are discussed. The lease must include a discussion of the tenant’s responsibility to restore the property to its original state and any improvements become the landlord’s property. Additionally, the landlord may prohibit the installation of a video doorbell. This may be included within the building’s rules or a lease clause. Overall, a landlord must disclose specific prohibitions within the lease.

What Are Some Key Lease Provisions?

Mandatory landlord disclosures simply denote that landlords must inform the tenant of property ownership and property flooding, and explicitly state the names and addresses of the property owner and property manager. Regarding the matter of flooding, if you entered the lease after July 1st of 1995, then the landlord must disclose to the tenant about the property’s flood damage.

In Georgia, residential leases should include a property description, rent, interest, and other charges, utilities, and the provisions of landlord access. Additionally, a default provision, which discusses the obligations, and an outline of maintenance and repair responsibilities of the landlord and tenant, must be incorporated. The lease must dictate the names of those residing on the property and a limit of the number of those unrelated individuals that may reside on the property.

The terms of the lease’s termination and courses of action for renewal should be outlined within the lease. Further, parking provisions, denoting the tenant’s vehicle’s make, model, and license plate. The lease’s key provisions should also include a joint and several liability clause, which requires all residing members to sign the lease and impose liability for the entirety of the rent. A pre-default notice and cure period provision must be incorporated and requires the landlord to give the tenant notice of the default and explicitly state when the tenant must cure the default. As well as, key provisions such as, rights of military personnel and rights of domestic violence victims, should be entailed in the lease.

Who Has Responsibility to Perform Repairs Under Ga Law?

Under GA law, the landlord must maintain the premises and repair the property. The lease will include the attributed responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. Additionally, the tenant holds responsibility for daily maintenance of the property under the tenant’s control; this could include smaller repairs of specific amounts.

Do Military Personnel Have the Right to Unilaterally Terminate the Lease?

Yes, military personnel may terminate a residential lease. This can be enforced for leases commences after July 1, 2005 and with a 30 days written notice to the landlord. The notice includes a copy of the military order or a commanding officer’s verification. The tenant is liable for the rent till the termination date of the lease. If the lease is resolved exceeding 14 days prior to tenancy, then no rent is due. If a member of the military has passed during active duty, then an immediate member of their family may terminate the lease.

Additionally, a termination of the lease requires the following circumstances to be met. The military service member received an order that changed their station location further than 35 miles from the tenant’s previous home. This circumstance additionally involves instances priori to the military individuals occupancy into the leased residence. The tenant was released from active duty and the leased property is located more than 35 miles from their prior home. If the service member was issued a military order, or if the tenant failed to move into government quarters, which leads to the forfeit of service, that required them to occupy government property, then one may terminate a residential lease. Military personnel pertain to temporary relocation orders exceeding 60 days and further than 35 miles from the leased residence.

Are There Any Lease Terms Prohibited Under Georgia Law?

Yes, there are five lease terms prohibited under GA law: the duties for repairs and improvements of a landlord, the liability a landlord faces for failure to make repairs. the duties placed by the Georgia Security Deposit Act on a landlord, the tenant’s right to dispossessory proceedings, and acquiescence with local ordinance.

What Happens When the Lease Expires?

Typically, a lease includes the specified start and end date of the lease period. When a lease expires, a tenant choses to vacate the property, continue to pay rent as an extension of that expired lease, or sign a new lease agreement. Tenants are required to provide a 60 days’ notice to extend, terminate, or alter the agreement.

What Are the Considerations for Security Deposit in Residential Leases?

In residential leases, there is no limit on the amount for the security deposit. A formal move-in inspection is required before the acceptance of the deposit. The existing damages must be enlisted and physically documented, signed by the tenant and the landlord. The security deposit must be retained within an escrow account in a state or federal regulated bank or lending institution, which must be disclosed to the tenant

A security deposit must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of the lease termination. The landlord may collect the security deposit for damaged property, fees for late payments or nonpayment of rent and utility charges, unpaid pet fees, repairs or cleaning contracted out to third parties, and abandoned property. If the landlord desires to attain a portion of the deposit, a written statement of reasoning, including the difference between the original deposit and retained amount, must be provided to the tenant.

What Are the Responsibilities of Landlords to Avoid Discrimination?

The federal and Georgia Fair Housing Acts prohibit the discrimination of selection of tenants under stipulations of race, religion, sex, disability, origin, and status. Landlords must make reasonable and necessary accommodations to ensure equal access, additional modifications, and fulfill certain accessibility requirements for disabled tenants. The responsibilities of landlords may include altering certain rules and practices to accommodate certain tenants.

Do Landlords Have a Duty to Disclose Lead Based Paint to Tenants?

Landlords must disclose lead based paint to tenants if the leased property was built before 1978. Additionally, the landlord must provide a copy of an EPA pamphlet, “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home,” and reports of the property’s lead-based hazards. In the case that a child (age 6 or younger) obtains lead poisoning, the landlord must subside the lead hazard.

Can the Landlord Prohibit Your Pet From the New Apartment?

No, the landlord cannot prohibit a pet from the leased property. The lease should include the specifications of the pet permitted on the property and require that local ordinances regarding pet care are followed. In many cases, landlords will demand a security deposit specific to pets and a pet fee, due to potential damages.

Is It Smart for Landlords or Tenants to Buy Insurance?

Yes, it is beneficial for the landlord and tenant to obtain insurance. This is because both parties will be protected from any damage or loss and secures personal liability. In most cases, landlords will purchase insurance for protection against damages suffered by and due to tenants and third parties.

Can the Landlord Ban Smoking in a Rented Apartment?

According to GA law, it is prohibited for a landlord to ban smoking within a rented apartment. The landlord must provide their own rules that prohibit electronic nicotine delivery systems, or electronic cigarettes and vapes, to the tenant. Georgia law limits the use of marijuana to medicinal purposes, excluding smoking. A landlord may not permit the use of marijuana.

What Is Eviction?

Eviction is the method by which a residential or commercial tenant is evicted from the property. This process must be compliant with the CARES Act. A landlord must compile an affidavit, which fulfills the rules and regulations of the Uniform Magistrate Court Rule 46.

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