State Rep. Sharon Cooper (Photo: Georgia House of Representatives)

Landlords would not be permitted to retaliate, as defined by the state, against tenants who complain about landlord services if a new measure filed in the Georgia House passes.

State Representative Sharon Cooper filed House Bill 346 with the support of three colleagues – Representatives Houston Gaines, Jan Jones, and Deborah Silcox. The legislation seeks to allow for civil damages on the part of the tenant if a court finds that a landlord has retaliated against a tenant.

Specifically, HB 346 reads that tenants, without fear of retaliation, shall be permitted to:

  • exercise or attempt to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to the tenant by lease, municipal ordinance, or federal or state statute
  • give a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy
  • complain to a governmental entity about a building or housing code violation
  • establishes, attempts to establish, or participates in a tenant organization

All of these remedies are already permitted under the law, but there is nothing in place that says a landlord cannot treat a tenant differently after such action is taken.

The bill goes on to say that within a 6-month period following a complaint by a tenant, a landlord cannot:

  • File a dispossessory
  • Deprive the tenant of the use of the premises (except as currently permitted under the law)
  • Decrease services to the tenant
  • Increase the tenant’s rent or terminating the tenant’s lease, which is already prohibited if lease agreements exist
  • Interfere with the tenant’s rights under the tenant’s lease.

If the landlord can prove that the actions were not ‘retaliation,’ the court can refuse to hold the landlord liable.

If a tenant wins in court, the tenant could be entitled to the following from the landlord:

  • 1 month rent + $500 in a civil penalty
  • Actual damages
  • Court costs
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Moving costs
  • Actual expenses

HB 346 stipulates that, in the event the dwelling is governmental housing subsidized in whole or in part, the damages are ‘fair market value’ for valuation of rent plus the $500, as well as the other recoverable items for non-governmental housing.

The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary committee.

You can read the bill here.

HB 346_2019
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5 COMMENTS

  1. I own 4 properties was suppose to be my retirement but last few years tenants have trashed and destroyed to the amount of over $44T. These are good houses and I keep fix anything when told. This is unfair bc in 30 years of being landlord have I ever recovered a penny from having to eviction. They never pay so Landlords most always lose. This is why rental are going up and not enough decent affordable for people struggling. STOP sand help landlords for a change. I am having to sell bc it has cost me every year to maintain and courts always on side of deadbeats that want pay or on drugs. They know and use the system.

  2. I am a tenant currently going through something that this bill entails. It will stop a lot of people from being scared to report an unscrupulous landlord. I sued my landlord for uninhabitable housing conditions and won (thank heavens) and he turned around 2 weeks later and served me with an eviction notice (for no reason). He’s trying to evict me for the same thing I won in small claims court and his case or counterclaim against me was completely dismissed. He’s using res justifica, but since I didn’t have an attorney (the judge seemed to listen more to the landlord). This bill will also help tenants that can’t afford legal counsel. I’ve been living here 8 years without problems but when it became unbearable (he wouldn’t make repairs) and I sued him and won now trying to evict me. I am low income (the eviction may even render me homeless). My case is currently in appeal. My first judge wouldn’t listen to a thing I said (I can’t afford legal counsel). I am in favor of HB 346 and believe that Georgia should have been had a law in this manner. In fact, Georgia is one of the few states that don’t have retaliatory laws that protect the tenants. I understand not all tenants are good, but not all tenants are bad. Take a stand Georgia! Protect the good tenants and reduce the homeless rates.

  3. Firstly, I am not from Georgia, but I am a tenant. I believe that this bill is fair because many of the tenants, where I rent, are not being returned their security deposit (despite passing the move out inspections), nor are the tenants being informed as to where their security deposit are being kept (as the law states), neither are the tenants being given information as to who has their security deposit when the rental properties are sold, hence, the tenants (in this case) are never returned their security deposit because both the seller and the buyer of the property(ies) each claims not to have the security deposit and if the security deposit is deemed too small for legal representation a tenant has to file a claim at small claims court only to be told that the new landlord is not the one who has to return the security deposit (even though the new law in 2013? states that the buyer inherits the security deposit) and that the tenant will have to find the seller of the properties and file a claim against him/her for the return of the security deposit. Meanwhile, the seller still denied their accountability and quoted the statute of limitation as a defence, therefore; the law for handling security deposits needs to change. Investment properties (for rentals) should require all security deposits to have bank depository account(s) that include(s) both the landlord’s/owners’ name along with the tenant’s name so that when the property(ies) are sold the seller’s name is replaced (within a limited time after the closing sale) with the buyer’s name on the account(s)). And when tenants move out of a rental unit and has passed inspection their security deposit should be returned to them within a twenty four hour period, for as quickly and readily the tenants give the landlords their security deposit as quickly and readily should it be returned. Please, no replies. Florida tenant.

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