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Settled in 1733 by James Oglethorpe, Georgia was the last of the original 13 colonies to be formed.
How to Screen a Tenant in the State of Georgia
DISCLAIMER: We do our best to keep this information accurate and up-to-date, but we cannot guarantee either. The most recent law changes may not be reflected here. We do not intend this information to be legal advice, nor are we qualified to advise you regarding legal matters. We highly recommend consulting a lawyer qualified to discuss landlord-tenant law to advise you. We do not specifically endorse any of the websites linked from these pages, nor are we in any way affiliated with the agencies or individuals who have published them. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on these sites. If you find a problem on this page, please contact us so that we can get it fixed.
Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Georgia has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the Georgia Fair Housing Codes summarized here. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
Owner/Agent Identity - this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
Security Deposit - this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
Non-refundable Fees - explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
Move In Checklist: Georgia landlords cannot collect a security deposit until they have given tenants a list of preexisting damage, but this is not an interactive checklist. (Ga. Code Ann. 44-7-33)
Flooding: Before signing a lease, if the living space or attachments have been damaged by flooding three or more times within the past five years, Georgia landlords must so disclose in writing. (Ga. Code Ann. 44-7-20)
Owner Or Agent Identity: At or before a tenancy begins, Georgia landlords must disclose in writing the names and addresses of the owner of record or a person authorized to act for the owner for purposes of service of process and receiving and receipting demands and notices; and the person authorized to manage the premises. If such information changes during the tenancy, landlord must advise tenant within 30 days in writing or by posting a notice in a conspicuous place. (Ga. Code Ann. 44-7-3)
Security Deposit: Georgia landlords must give tenants a written list of preexisting damage to the rental before collecting a security deposit. Landlords must place the deposit in an escrow account in a state or federally regulated depository, and must inform the tenant of the location of this account. Alternatively, landlords may post a security bond securing all tenants' deposits. A landlord who owns ten or fewer rental units, unless those units are managed by an outside party, does not need to supply a written list of preexisting damage place the deposit in an escrow account. (Ga. Code Ann. 44-7-30 to 44-7-37)
Mold: Georgia rental property may be subject to a local housing code. You can contact local county or city officials to determine if a code is applicable in your area. Generally speaking, these codes do not contain or enforce any mold related standard. Therefore, all renters should become familiar with how the landlord-tenant relationship works to resolve disputes or problems. Indoor Air Quality
Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records - A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Georgia: Augusta Superior And State Courts, Bibb State Court, Chatham Superior State And Magistrate Courts, Cobb County Clerk Superior Court, GA Department Of Corrections, GBI Sex Offender Registry, Gwinnett County Lawrenceville Court, Oconee Sheriffs Office, GA Parole File, GA Sex Offender Registry.