Support HB 408 to protect housing stability for Georgia families

Georgia has some of the highest eviction rates and eviction filing rates of any state in the country. Eviction filings damage the ability of families to rent their next home and force families into unsafe housing, extended stay hotels, and homelessness. Georgia currently falls behind 40 other states in eviction protections. These other states, including our neighbors in the southeast, provide a right for tenants to “cure” the nonpayment of rent or other failure of performance before an eviction may be filed. Georgia Watch supports efforts to increase eviction protections, ensuring greater housing stability for Georgians.

Current Georgia Legislation: Consumer Champion Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43) introduced House Bill 408 to promote housing stability for families. HB 408 would require eviction notices be provided and delivered in writing. The bill would also allow tenants to pay all back rent within seven days of receiving the notice – an opportunity they do not currently have. Furthermore, the bill would require landlords to give tenants a minimum of seven days before they could file an eviction in court. This change would bring Georgia in line with 40 other states. This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

What does the eviction process currently look like in Georgia?

Georgia landlords must satisfy only one prerequisite before filing an eviction in court: they must make a demand for possession. The demand can be verbal, as there is no current requirement that the demand be in writing. This leaves room for disputes over whether the demand was proper or effective. Moreover, landlords may insist that their tenants move out in five days, three days, or even sooner making a demand for possession.

Once a landlord files the eviction in court, the court provides tenants seven days to pay the landlord the back rent and court costs. If the tenant fulfills these requirements, the court will dismiss the eviction case. However, the eviction filing remains on the tenant’s record, leaving the tenant with a record that may prevent them from passing future background checks for leases. By current law, landlords may deny housing to tenants with eviction histories, even if the tenant prevailed in court. We support efforts to close these loopholes that exacerbate housing instability for Georgia families.