Georgia Eviction Process
October 23, 2023
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Eviction In Georgia
If you own and rent properties in the state of Georgia, you are responsible for complying with Georgia state eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Georgia.
Georgia’s eviction laws can be found at OCGA § 44-7-49 – 44-7-59.
Eviction Process in Georgia
- Landlord serves an eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves a summons to the tenant.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets seven days to move out and/or appeal the judgment.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
According to Georgia eviction laws, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease agreement, or failing to fulfill their obligations under the law.
1. Landlord Serves an Eviction Notice
When a tenant violates the lease in any way (e.g., nonpayment, property damage, illegal activity on the premises, etc.), the landlord must first serve the tenant a written Georgia eviction notice:
- Rent Demand Notice: Unspecified notice to pay or quit. According to Georgia laws on eviction, if a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord may serve a pay-or-quit notice and file for eviction the day immediately following the day rent was due. Written notice is required, but there is no specified amount required (OCGA § 44-7-50).
- Lease Violation Notice: Unspecified notice to cure or quit. Georgia eviction laws also do not specify how much time landlords should give tenants to fix a violation before filing for eviction. However, landlords should generally serve the tenant written notice and provide a reasonable period to cure the violation, as well as specifying the policy they follow in the lease agreement (OCGA § 44-7-50).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: Immediate. If a tenant breaks the law or commits a severe violation, the landlord can file for eviction immediately thereafter.
There is no mandatory number of days’ notice the landlord must provide before they file an eviction action in any of the above cases. This means the landlord could file an eviction action immediately after delivering the notice; however, three to five days’ notice is typical (OCGA § 44-7-50).
Generally, written notices should be delivered in person, by handing the notice to a person of suitable age residing at the property or by posting it conspicuously on the premises. The landlord should also mail the notice by first class mail and keep the certificate or receipt.
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if no cure period is provided), the landlord can then file a dispossessory action (the eviction lawsuit) with the Georgia Superior court, Georgia State Court, or any other state court with jurisdiction in the region where the property is located. The form required is called a Dispossessory Affidavit (downloadable here), with an attached summons. The landlord can also go to a magistrate in the district and make an affidavit under oath (OCGA § 44-7-50).
The affidavit includes:
- The county and case number
- Both parties’ names and addresses
- Whether the affidavit-signer is the owner, agent, or attorney
- The basis or reason for the eviction
- The amount of past due rent
- The rental rate, per day
- The landlord’s signature and the date.
The landlord will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies by county. In Paulding County, for instance, the fee to file a dispossessory action with the magistrate court is $78.
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
The next step in the Georgia eviction process is serving the summons. After the landlord files the dispossessory affidavit, the summons portion must be served to the tenant. It informs the tenant that the landlord has taken legal action against them and states the tenant’s obligation to file a written or oral answer.
The summons will be directed to the sheriff, deputy, or constable of the county, who will personally serve the summons and a copy of the affidavit to the tenant. If the tenant can’t be served personally, the sheriff must leave it with another person residing at the unit or they can post a copy on the front door and mail a copy by first-class mail (OCGA § 44-7-51(a)).
Sheriff’s fees for serving the summons to the tenant also vary by county. In Augusta, the sheriff’s fee for serving a tenant a summons in a dispossessory action is $25.
4. Tenant Files an Answer
As mentioned above, the summons will also inform the tenant that they must submit an oral or written answer to the affidavit within seven days of the service date (if the seventh day falls on a weekend or holiday, the answer may be made on the next business day). If filed in written form, the tenant should use the Dispossessory Answer (downloadable here) form. The answer should include any defense or counterclaim the tenant has against the eviction, but the landlord does not need to be present for its filing (OCGA § 44-7-51(b)).
If the eviction is for nonpayment, the tenant is also allowed to tender to the landlord all rent owed within the seven-day period. If the tenant does so, they will avoid eviction as long as they haven’t already done so already within a 12-month period (OCGA § 44-7-52(a)).
If the tenant fails to file an answer, they will waive their right to attend the hearing and the court will issue a default judgment in the landlord’s favor (OCGA § 44-7-51(c)).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
Assuming the tenant does file an answer, a court hearing will be scheduled, and both parties will be informed of its date and time via a Dispossessory Proceeding Notice of Trial Date (downloadable here).
The trial will follow the procedures for civil actions in the appropriate court. The tenant is allowed to stay in the unit while the litigation is pending, but they must pay rent into the registry of the court at the time they file an answer (OCGA § 44-7-53(a)).
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the dispossessory affidavit, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment.
If the right of possession cannot be finalized within two weeks of the service of the summons, the tenant is required to keep paying rent, utility bills, and all other agreed-upon fees into the registry of the court. If they stop at any time, the court will grant the landlord a writ of possession. The landlord will eventually be paid all the funds from the registry, unless there is a dispute from the tenant about the amount of funds due that requires a further trial (OCGA § 44-7-54).
6. Tenant Gets Seven Days to Move Out and/or Appeal the Judgment
If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue a writ of possession seven days after the judgment is entered (OCGA § 44-7-55(a)). The tenant must move out within the seven days, but they can also file an appeal to the judgment during this period.
7. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
The last step in the Georgia eviction process timeline is the tenant’s removal. If the tenant does not vacate the premises within the seven-day period, the writ will be directed to the sheriff, who will post and execute the writ. This could take several days, depending on how busy the sheriff’s office is and when they can return to remove the tenant. Georgia law does not state a specific number of days’ notice the tenant should receive after the sheriff posts the writ of possession. However, the landlord needs to apply at the sheriff’s office to have the writ executed within 30 days after it is issued, or else they will have to apply for a new writ (OCGA § 44-7-55(d)).
If the tenant leaves behind personal property after they are evicted, it is considered abandoned—the landlord is not responsible to the tenant for storing or safekeeping it (OCGA § 44-7-55(c)).
Evicting a Squatter in Georgia
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Georgia, squatters must have lived in the property for 20 consecutive years or seven years with color of title to invoke squatters rights Georgia provides and claim right of possession (OCGA § 44-5-163 and 44-5-164). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Georgia to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Georgia, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Georgia eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Georgia Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Georgia, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||Varies, but typically ~$50-$75|
|Service of court summons||~$25-$50|
|Issuance of writ of possession||Varies|
|Service of writ of possession||Varies|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Georgia Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the eviction process timeline varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||Unspecified|
|Issuance and service of summons to tenant||Varies by court|
|Tenant answer/tender period||7 days|
|Issuance of writ of possession||7 days|
|Service of writ of possession||Within 30 days|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||Varies; typically 24 hours to a few days|
- Dispossessory Affidavit
- Dispossessory Answer
- Notice of Trial Date (Dispossessory Proceeding)
- Application and Order for Default Writ of Possession
- Georgia Civil Procedure Code – This document lays out the process for a civil court case in Georgia.
- Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Forms—A list of downloadable court forms used in Georgia.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Georgia laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.