What’s the deal with security deposit laws in Georgia?
Most landlords are aware that the rental security deposit is there to protect them, but failing to follow proper procedures can generate unnecessary legal issues and headaches. It could even cause you to forfeit your rights to the security deposit, so make sure you’re up to speed on Georgia’s security deposit law before you take any actions.
Despite the fact that Georgia’s security deposit laws seem relatively straightforward, an Augusta woman says they need to take it further. After paying an application fee of $35 and a security deposit of $99 for a rental unit, she was quickly approved and paid $399 for the first month’s rent. She and her son changed their minds about living in the apartment but were unsuccessful in initial attempts to get the deposit back. The signed application agreement stated that reservation fees could be kept even if an applicant changes their mind, but was vague about how rental deposits are treated.
The reality is that landlords and tenants should both be informed about what’s legal and recommended in order to avoid awkward or escalated situations related to the security or rental deposits. Having clear terms in your lease about the collection of and rights to the security deposit helps to decrease the chances of a problem later on.
Do landlords need to charge tenants a security deposit in Georgia?
It’s always a good idea to charge a security deposit in order to give you some peace of mind about what will happen if the tenant disappears or leaves your property destroyed. Although it’s nice to assume that neither of these will happen, you should never count on good faith as a landlord.
What are the limits on rental deposits in Georgia?
There are no state limits on rental security deposits in Georgia
However, to be fair to tenants, a landlord might reasonably request one or two months’ rent as a security deposit.
The landlord is well within his or her rights to also request deposits related to an application fee, pet deposit, or cleaning fee.
Do landlords need to provide a receipt for a security deposit?
The lease can be used as a receipt for the security deposit. It should state how much the deposit is, and the escrow account in which the security deposit is located.
Does the money need to be kept in a separate account?
Yes. Any landlord who owns more than 10 units or who works with a property management company must place the deposit in an escrow account. The tenant needs to be notified about the location of this account, but does not need information about the account number.
Alternatively, a landlord may post bond with the superior court clerk of the county in which the rental property is located.
What can security deposit money be used for?
- Repair costs related to excessive damages to the rental unit
- Unpaid rent
- Extensive cleaning costs
What is the deadline to return a security deposit in Georgia?
The security deposit (minus any costs incurred for cleaning or repairs, if applicable) must be returned to the renter no later than 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the property to the landlord.
Do landlords need to notify renters of security deposit money used to fix damages?
Yes. All landlords in Georgia need to return the security deposit with a notice of the damages, the estimated dollar amount of the damages, and a refund (if any) for the difference between the security deposit and the cost for those repairs.
Where can I learn more about Georgia Security Deposit laws?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to learn more about security deposit laws in Georgia, please consult a lawyer.
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