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FAQ: Does a tenant have rights when there is not a written lease?

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded

FAQ: Does a tenant have rights when there is not a written lease?

Does a tenant have rights when there is not a written lease?  

A tenant who occupies rental property with the landlord's consent and makes rent payments without a written lease is a "tenant-at-will." Georgia landlord tenant laws, including eviction laws and security deposits laws, still apply. A tenant-at-will has the right to occupy and use the rented property according to the agreement between the landlord and the tenant. When the lease does not state when the tenancy will end, as usually happens when there is not a written lease, Georgia law (O.C.G.A. §44-7-7) specifies the notice the landlord must give to terminate or change the original rental agreement. A landlord who has a tenant-at-will must give a sixty (60) day notice to the tenant before seeking to terminate the agreement or change any term of the original agreement. This means the landlord must give a tenant-at-will sixty (60) days notice before imposing a rent increase or requesting that the tenant move. A tenant-at-will must give a thirty (30) day notice to the landlord to terminate or change the original agreement. To protect your legal rights any and all notices should be in writing. When a tenant-at-will fails to pay rent the landlord is not required to give the sixty (60) days notice, the landlord can demand possession and immediately file a dispossessory affidavit seeking possession in court.

Last Review and Update: Jul 21, 2011