May 31

Litigating Landlord-Tenant Disputes, Part II

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Recently, I was retained by a young couple who rent a home in the Normaltown area of Athens. They told me that in the previous month, the property had been sold to a new owner who was looking to renovate and resell the property. The owner didn’t let my clients know where to send their first rent check until just before the first-of-the-month due date; once the rent check arrived a few days after the beginning of the month, the landlord immediately sent the tenants a demand for the premises noting that the rent check did not cover the rent plus late fees owed, and as such was a partial payment that the landlord was rejecting. A few days later, the landlord filed a dispossessory proceeding.

Once my clients found out the landlord was trying to serve them with a copy of the dispossessory action, they decided that they needed legal representation. After consultation, my clients tendered a payment of rent plus the cost of the dispossessory warrant – under Georgia law, the landlord is obligated to accept such a tender from a tenant once every twelve months, and that payment acts as a complete defense to the dispossessory. (For more information, see OCGA 44-7-52(a).) I also filed an Answer on behalf of my client, contesting the elements of the dispossessory and asserting available defenses.

Following conversations with the landlord, I was able to negotiate an amicable resolution of the matter for my clients, including voluntary dismissal of the dispossessory action and acceptance of re-issued rent checks from my clients without late fees or penalties.

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