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Georgia Politics

House Passes Bill to Restrict Contentious Landlord-Tenant Relationships

The bill prohibits landlords from taking action after a tenant complains about landlord activities.

Landlords will no longer be permitted to retaliate, as defined by the state, against tenants who complain about landlord services if a measure passed overwhelmingly by the Georgia House this week also clears the state senate.

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.

The measure only had 25 no votes when it cleared the hurdle of the lower chamber on Tuesday.

Among those voting NO:

Bonner, Josh
Caldwell, Michael
Carpenter, Kasey
Cooke, Kevin
Dunahoo, Emory
Gilligan, Sheri
Gravley, Micah
Gullett, Joseph
Gurtler, Matt
Kirby, Tom
LaHood, John
LaRiccia, Dominic
Mathiak, Karen
Momtahan, Martin
Moore, Colton
Morris, Greg
Pullin, Ken
Rhodes, Trey
Ridley, Jason
Rutledge, Dale
Sainz, Steven
Setzler, Ed
Tarvin, Steve
Turner, Scot
Williamson, Bruce 

18 others skipped the vote (as indicated by the dash next to their name here).

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 now heads to the Senate

You can read the bill here.

HB 346_2019

Jessica Szilagyi is a former Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Carol Roberts

    January 11, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you, Madam Cooper! For some reason, this popped up today…God made it to do so, I suspect, because we residents of a particular senior citizens apartment have gone without use of an elevator for half the residents (those of us at the north end)of our 4-story building for about 2-1/2 months. We have been forced, without receiving a public or communal repair date, to lug groceries, oxygen tanks, etc. from Early November, 2018 till even today, January, 2020. Residents are fearful of calling HUD or the Atlanta Housing Authority, because fear of eviction has been instilled in them by certain staff of the management company, builder of many senior complexes in the city and across the country. I shared telephone numbers such as Georgia Senior Legal, Fox5Call for Action, and other organizations to help us, but they are still terrified, a full year later. So, to read this again by chance its popping up randomly today, it seems God was telling me my efforts at advocacy are not something that should make me fearful of eviction. Much love and gratitude to you and your helpers and those who voted for us.

  2. Carol Roberts

    January 11, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Correction, “early November 2019 (not 2018) until now, January, 2020…”

  3. Wanda Grant

    February 5, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Thanks to everyone that had a hand in getting this Bill passed..I don’t understand something the landlord telling my brother he had to pay to get the roof fixed.My brother paid 742.65 to the same guy our landlord hired to fix the kitchen and a problem we are having with the power.The guy has been paid in full now he want come do the work.I have been trying to find out if our landlord can make us move now.I hope not because we have looked for another place everywhere and can’t find anything.We pay to much for the house we live in now 375.00 a month and there is rats roaches plus alot of the windows are out, the floors are not level.I wish I could send representative Cooper some pictures of what we live in.THANK YOU FOR READING.Oh our sister lives with my brother and me and we all are disabled.
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