In Georgia, landlord-tenant laws allow tenants to exercise their rights to constructive eviction and terminate their lease agreements unilaterally if tenants can prove that their landlords failed to maintain their rental properties in a habitable condition. Although only judges can decide whether the landlord's breach amounted to constructive eviction, tenants who live in unsafe housing may have no other options other than moving out without notice.
Constructive eviction is a legal concept that allows tenants to move out based upon the poor circumstances leading up to their departures. Tenants who leave based upon the grounds of constructive eviction do not have to proceed with the legal eviction procedures that involve providing the landlord with a written notice and opportunity to cure prior to filing a legal notice to leave or quit the premises. Typical reasons for constructive evictions include unrepaired and leaking roofs, criminal trespasses by neighbors or landlords, and pest infestations.
Landlord’s Duties to Provide Habitable Rental Premises
Landlords have an implied duty of warrantability to provide safe and fit rental units to their tenants. Landlords who fail to make necessary repairs or provide safety measures as required by their local ordinances and building codes have breached their duty to provide habitable premises. When tenants seek to terminate their lease agreements earlier than allowed by the terms of their leases, then Georgia tenants must terminate their lease agreements. If the landlord does not allow the tenant to terminate the tenancy earlier than allowed through the lease, the tenant must obtain a right to terminate the tenancy through court.
Constructive Eviction Exception
Tenants may exercise their rights to constructive eviction when landlords fail to provide adequate repairs for their units. Constructive eviction allows tenants to withhold future rent payments until the landlord provides necessary repairs. To prove construction eviction, Georgia tenants must show that the landlord’s failure to provide the necessary repairs led to the deterioration of the property rendering it unfit for habitability. Additionally, the tenant must prove that residing in the property was more than uncomfortable but unfit for human use.
Legal Reasons Allowing Constructive Eviction
If a Georgia landlord fails to provide air conditioning in an apartment without air conditioning when the tenant moved in, the landlord’s failure to install air conditioning does not typically justify the tenants to exercise their constructive eviction rights. However, if the landlord provided air conditioning when the tenant moved in and the lease requires the landlord to maintain the air conditioning system in working order, then the landlord’s refusal to repair an inoperable air conditioning system can qualify as a justifiable basis for constructive eviction. However, the tenant should first exercise her other rights to repair and deduct from the rent and allow the landlord with a reasonable opportunity to repair the cooling system.
Georgia’s Eviction Process for Landlords
In Georgia, landlords must provide tenants with notice prior to terminating a written lease agreement or terminating a tenancy-at-will or tenants without a written lease. Landlords must provide at least 60 days to tenants-at-will allowing them to vacate prior to obtaining a dispossessory warrant through Georgia’s circuit courts. Landlords with written leases must follow the written notice requirements as required by the lease. If the landlord’s written lease does not contain a notice provision, Georgia law requires the landlord to provide the tenant with 60 days to leave.
- Georgia Department of Community Affairs: Landlord/Tenant Handbook: Evictions and Dispossessions
- Georgia Department of Community Affairs: Georgia Department of Community Affairs: Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook
- Law office of Stimmel, Stimmel, & Roeser. "Retaliatory Eviction - The Basics." Accessed Sept. 20, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Retaliatory Eviction." Accessed Sept. 20, 2020.
Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.