In Georgia, pursuant to O.C.G.A. TITLE 44-7-30, et seq., the following applies to landlords with 10 or more units, or who use a management company.
We receive many phone calls from tenants who have moved out of a rental unit and need guidance regarding their security deposit. Consider the following, and then call us immediately, if you need help.
When you decide to move out of a rental property, give your landlord 30 days’ notice, unless your lease requires notice at some earlier point. If you do not provide notice to your landlord, then she does not have to comply with the strict timelines described below, and must make a final inspection within a reasonable time after discovering the termination of occupancy. So long as you provide notice, the landlord must return the full amount of your security deposit within 30 days after you move out, as long as the property was not damaged and you do not have a balance due on your rent.
If your landlord is withholding all or part of your deposit, she must give you a reason. When the reason is delivered, it must be accompanied by a payment of the difference between the total deposit and the amount retained. In the event that actual cause exists for retaining any portion of the security deposit, the landlord must provide you with a written statement listing the exact reasons for the retention. If the reason for retention is based on damages to the premises, such damages shall be listed along with the estimated dollar value of such damage. This list must be given to you three days after the date that your occupancy is terminated. You then have the right to inspect the premises within five days of terminating your tenancy in order to ascertain the accuracy of the list.
If you dispute the accuracy of the list provided as described above, then you should state specifically in writing the items on the list to which you do not agree, and sign your “statement of dissent.” Make a copy for your files, and send this statement to your landlord certified mail. If the landlord provides the list of damages, then you must send the statement of dissent, or you may waive your right to file suit.
Under the Georgia Code, the landlord’s failure to provide each of the written statements within the time periods specified works a forfeiture of all her rights to withhold any portion of the security deposit or to bring an action against you for damages to the premises. In many cases, withholding your deposit without following these rules will cause your landlord to have to pay you additional money.
If you are dissatisfied with the reason(s) for withholding your deposit, the amount withheld, or you think that your landlord has not followed these rules, you should contact us immediately. If your landlord has not followed these rules, but retains your deposit, tries to collect or report an alleged debt from you or sues you for damages to the premises, then you should contact us immediately. You can also email Orion G. Webb at email@example.com.
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