Residential leases in Georgia, like most states, require the tenant to pay a security deposit to cover either destruction of the premises, or delinquent rental fees in case of abandonment of the lease by the tenant. The security deposit is typically one month’s rent, but Georgia law does not restrict the security deposit amount that can be assessed by the landlord. Various state laws govern how the landlord must maintain and return the security deposit, and provide rules for notification of pre-existing damages and making deductions from the security deposit.
Georgia law provides that landlords must place security deposits in an escrow account in a regulated depository or post a bond securing the tenant’s deposit. The landlord is not required to place the deposit in an interest-bearing account or pay interest to the tenant. Additionally, landlords must notify tenants of the whereabouts of the escrow account in writing. Within one month after the tenant has vacated the rental property and relinquished his keys, a landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit.
A landlord is obligated to provide the tenant with a complete list of existing damages to the rental property before accepting the tenant’s security deposit. The tenant may inspect the premises prior to assuming occupancy to verify the accuracy of the landlord’s report. If the landlord owns ten or fewer rental properties, unless those units are externally managed, he is not required to produce information detailing existing damages.
A landlord is permitted to make deductions from the security deposit for a variety of reasons, including nonpayment of rent, abandonment of the premises, actual damages incurred by the tenant and nonpayment of contracted-for work with third party suppliers. When a landlord makes a deduction from the security deposit to cover the costs of any of the above, he must provide the tenant with advance notice of such deduction.
The premises must be inspected within three days after termination of the lease and the landlord must produce a comprehensive list of all damages to the property, which would account for deductions from the security deposit, along with an estimate for repairing any such damages.
The dedicated team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. specializes in real estate law and has the experience to advise clients in various residential property matters. Contact Mark Weinstein at (770) 888-7707 or visit http://www.markweinsteinlaw.com for more information.