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Georgia Security Deposit Laws

When you're renting a property, whether it's a storefront or an apartment, the landlord most likely will require payment of a security deposit. This is money paid up-front (and separate from the first-month's rent) to be used for reasonable repairs, cleaning fees, and other incidentals when the tenant moves out. Many states have limits on how much a landlord may charge for a deposit. Georgia law has no such limits, but the state does have other safeguards to protect tenants.

The following is a summary of Georgia's security deposit laws, including time limits for returning the money to tenants (minus reasonable deductions) and how the deposit should be stored.

Georgia Security Deposit Laws: The Basics

When you're signing a lease or trying to determine whether your tenant rights have been violated, the last thing you have time for is deciphering dense statutory language. The following summary of Georgia's security deposit laws is intended to help you learn about your rights -- without the legalese.

Statute Georgia Code, Title 44, Chapter 7, Sections 30-37
Security Deposit Maximum

Georgia doesn't have a statutory limit on the amount a landlord may require for a security deposit.

Storage of Security Deposit

Georgia landlords have two options for storing a tenant's security deposit (noncompliance may result in forfeiture of a landlord's right to withhold anything from the tenant):

  1. Escrow Account - An account held by a third party; funds are released (at the end of the rental period) in accordance with the lease terms.
  2. Surety Bond - The tenant agrees to forfeit funds from a deposit in accordance with the written and signed lease agreement.
Receipt of Security Deposit

Landlord must provide tenant with an itemized list of preexisting damage, defects, etc. before collecting a security deposit (noncompliance may result in forfeiture of a landlord's right to withhold anything from the tenant):

  • Tenant has the right to inspect the property before signing off to list and paying the deposit (this list then becomes proof of the property's condition to prior to tenant's move-in date).
  • If there's a disagreement, the tenant must indicate specific items of disagreement and sign a statement of dissent.
Walk-Through Inspections

Within 3 days after tenant vacates property, the landlord must inspect the property for damages and write a list of damage.

Within 5 days after vacating property, the tenant may inspect the property and compare their observations to the landlord's list.

If there are disagreements (and the tenant has signed a statement of dissent), they may take the landlord to court to recover the disputed amount.

What Can A Landlord Deduct?

Landlords may deduct for reasonable fees and expenses incurred during the rental period, including:

  • Unpaid rent;
  • Penalties for late payment of rent;
  • Nonpayment of utility bills;
  • Unpaid pet fees;
  • Damage beyond normal wear and tear;
  • Cleaning fees; and
  • Any costs associated with abandonment of the property.
Deadline for Returning a Tenant's Security Deposit

Within 1 month after the tenant has vacated the property and returned the keys.

Assuming the landlord has made a good-faith effort to return the security deposit to the tenant's last known address, the tenant forfeits their right to the deposit if they can't be reached within 90 days.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Georgia Security Deposit Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Help Understanding Georgia Security Deposit Laws

It's not easy coming up with the cash for a security deposit on top of the first month's rent, especially if you're having trouble getting the deposit back from your last rental. If your landlord isn't acting in good faith or there's a dispute about what's owed, you may want to explore your legal options. Consider speaking with a Georgia landlord-tenant law attorney today.

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