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What should I know about repairs to rental properties?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Rental property repair laws in Georgia Resources

Rental property repair laws in Georgia

What should I know? +

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What are my rights as a tenant when it comes to repairs?

As a tenant, you have rights when it comes to your rental property:

  • You have the right to live in a rental property that meets local housing code standards.

  • You have the right to request repairs in writing without fear of retaliation from your landlord. Georgia law protects tenants who are evicted after they request repairs.

  • If your landlord fails to make repairs you have the right to sue for damages or make the repairs and deduct the cost.

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What are repairs are my responsibility as a tenant?

As tenant, you also have responsibilities when it comes to the maintenance of your property:

  • Tenants are not responsible for repairs due to normal wear and tear. But, tenants are required to repair damages they made themselves. Read your lease carefully to see what it says about repairs and responsibilities. 

  • You are responsible for inspecting the rental unit before you move in. You must request repairs before you sign a lease. The landlord does not have to repair issue that were clear before you moved in, unless they make the property unsafe.

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What are my landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to repairs?

The landlord has a responsibility to make sure the rental property meets local housing code standards. The lease should not: 

  • Require the tenant to make repairs, or 

  • Waive the landlord's responsibility for maintaining the property.

 

Any lease provision which makes the tenant responsible for all repairs can be challenged under Georgia law. 

  • The landlord is responsible for maintaining the building structure. They must keep the electric, heating, and plumbing systems running. 

  • The landlord is also responsible for repairing any appliances included in the rental unit. A landlord does not have to provide air conditioning, but if the unit comes with air conditioning, the landlord must repair it if it is broken. 

  • A landlord is responsible for meeting all local ordinances and minimum safety standards. 

 

The tenant should not be charged for repairs caused by ordinary wear and tear. Before a landlord can be required to make a repair, he must be given notice of the defect. 

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What can I do? +

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How can I request a repair?

  1. If you would like to request a repair, you must give your landlord written notice of the problem needing repair. Sometimes landlords conveniently forget that tenants have requested repairs. If you make your requests in writing and keep copies, you will have proof of the attempts that you made. 

  • It is important to make repair requests in writing, and keep copies of the requests. 

  • Make sure you put your name, address, and date on the letter. 

  1. Take pictures of your conditions and problems. Pictures provide evidence of conditions and problems.

  2. You should also hand deliver the letter if possible and have the person who received it sign your copy. If you mail the request, send it by certified mail. 

  3. If you follow up your written request with a phone call to the landlord, write down the date, time, and the name of the person with whom you spoke about repairs. 

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What can I do if my landlord doesn’t make repairs?

If your landlord fails to make repairs, call the Housing Code Department. Most counties and cities have inspectors who decide whether apartments are up to code. 

 

If the unit is not up to code, the Housing Code Inspector will warn the landlord that:

  • they need to abide by the Code and 

  • they could be prosecuted for not making necessary repairs. 

 

Georgia law does not permit you to withhold your rent, but if you can prove that you gave the landlord notice of the needed repair, you can sue the landlord in court for failure to repair.

 

Another solution is to do the repairs - or have someone else do them. You can then subtract the cost of the repairs from the next month's rent. However, you may not recover the money you spend if your landlord takes you to court. Please consult an attorney before you "repair and deduct".

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What can I do if my landlord tries to evict me after I asked for a repair?

Under a Georgia law passed in 2019, if you request a repair or make a complaint because your landlord does not make a repair, your landlord cannot retaliate against you by:

  • Starting an eviction process,

  • Keeping you from using the property,

  • Decreasing services, like maintenance,

  • Increasing rent, or

  • Interfering with your rights under the lease.

 

If your landlord does retaliate against you by trying to evict you, you can use the fact that you made a complaint as a defense in court. Talk to an attorney to see if you can use this defense. If you are successful, your landlord may owe you:

  • One month’s rent,

  • $500,

  • Attorney’s fees, and

  • Damages.

 

However, if you do not pay rent or you break your lease in another way, the landlord can still evict you, even if you requested a repair. 

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Resources

Last Review and Update: Nov 05, 2019