FAQ: What is a lease and why is it important?

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded

FAQ: What is a lease and why is it important?

What is a lease and why is it important?  

A lease is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. The lease sets forth the rights
and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. The lease allows the tenant to occupy and use, for a specific period of time, land and the buildings on the land. In return, the tenant pays a specified rent. The lease may set forth other duties and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant. Once the parties sign the lease both are bound by its terms. Landlords should select their leases with care. Before selecting a lease, a landlord may wish to consult with an attorney who regularly handles landlord and tenant matters. Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 44-7-2) prohibits leases for residential dwellings from containing language which

* Seeks to waive, assign, transfer, or otherwise weaken the landlord's legal
responsibility to keep the rental property in good repair or lessen his
responsibility for any damages caused by his failure to keep the property
in good repair;

* Attempts to avoid having the property comply with local

* Seeks to exempt the landlord from complying with the Georgia Security
Deposit Act;

* Would allow the landlord to regain possession of the property without first
going through court, as is legally required; or

* Requires the tenant to pay the landlord's attorney fees caused by
the tenant's breach of the lease unless the lease also requires the
landlord to pay the tenant's attorney fees caused by the landlord's
breach of the lease.

A lease which contains the above prohibited language is still a valid lease but the prohibited lease language is void and unenforceable.

Last Review and Update: Jul 21, 2011