Tenant Law in Georgia
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Swainsboro, Georgia can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
Landlords and tenants have to navigate a web of legal rights and commitments. It's essential that the parties to a landlord/tenant relationship know what obligations they have to one another.
Landlord's Rights in Swainsboro, GA
Landlords are, of course, entitled to collect rent from their tenants. If a tenant fails to pay the agreed-upon rent, the landlord is normally able to evict the tenant without too much trouble, though the process can sometimes get fairly complicated.
Landlords also have a right to be free from damage to the rented unit. Tenants are expected not to damage their dwellings, intentionally or negligently. Landlords can deduct the cost of repairs from the tenant's security deposit. In general, tenants are not responsible for damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.
Tenant's Rights in Swainsboro, GA
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Swainsboro, Georgia must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Furthermore, tenants have rights to common areas that are free of physical obstructions, as well as serious health and safety hazards. Common areas are the places in apartment buildings and other residential complexes which every tenant can access, and include hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes. In Swainsboro, Georgia, these areas must be kept in a safe condition, at the landlord's expense.
Under federal and Georgia law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords additionally cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Lastly, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords usually must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Swainsboro, Georgia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants typically prefer to avoid getting into fights with one another, for noticeable reasons. A harmonious relationship is profitable for everyone involved. To that end, the advice of a good Swainsboro, Georgia landlord/tenant attorney can help defuse arguments before they become too serious.