A Tenant’s Rights

The decision to buy versus rent is only the first hurdle in choosing your home, and placing your signature on a baited rental agreement can harm you financially. Whether you’ve spent days, weeks, or months searching for a new home, the most crucial steps begin right before you sign the contract.

It is important to approach any contract with knowledge of your state’s laws and your rights as a tenant. While specific laws may vary by county, these are some general tenant’s rights in Georgia.

  •  The Fair Housing Act prohibits denial of tenancy based on race, color, sex, religion, physical and mental disability, familial status, and national origin.
  • Residential rentals must be habitable and in compliance with housing and health codes. Generally, units should be safe, sanitary, and weatherproofed.
  • Landlord must make necessary repairs in a timely fashion. The tenant may also be eligible to deduct the cost of repairs paid for by him or herself from the monthly payment.
  • There should be a 24-hour notice of entry before a landlord can enter your home and only in the case of repair or emergency.
  • To evict, the landlord must receive court order. This means the landlord cannot shut off your utilities, change the locks, or evict you without notice.

Before signing an agreement, tenants must be aware of their state laws as well as request a complete tour of the new property they hope to lease. It’s best to take photographs of your potential purchase, especially any notable damage and document these to the landlord. Georgia requires all landlords to provide a move-in checklist for tenants. During your move-in tour, if you notice any damages not listed already for the property, make sure to have the landlord sign off in acknowledgment, otherwise you could be at risk to cover the costs of someone else’s accident.

Sometimes a dispute may arise, and it is best to first try and resolve the problem directly with the landlord by all means possible. Open communication can often clear up misconceptions on the agreement terms. However, if an appropriate compromise for both parties cannot be met, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for legal advice. The best way to protect yourself in a rental agreement is to know your rights.

About McAleer Law:

McAleer Law—Decatur, Georgia’s preeminent personal injury, worker’s compensation, and Social Security Disability firm—has been representing plaintiffs and injured workers for more than ten years. Specializing in lost wage, medical expense, pain/suffering, lost quality of life, and psychological injury cases, founder Charles McAleer guarantees his clients personal attention, diligence, and unparalleled service quality. McAleer also hosts a weekly radio show at 9 a.m. on News and Talk 1380 WAOK, bringing listeners sound legal advice, breaking news, current events, and other topics important to the Atlanta community. For more information on Charles McAleer and the McAleer Law Firm visit www.McAleerLaw.com, “like” McAleer Law on Facebook, or follow @McAleerLawFirm on Twitter.