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Roommate/Tenant: GA Landlord law or contract law?

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by helpmeplease1, Sep 24, 2009.

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  1. helpmeplease1

    helpmeplease1 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Everyone seems to have similar questions to the one I have: how do I evict the "tenant" that is living with me in my house? And the answers have all been the same also: you must follow eviction procedures. But my "legal advisor" or "trusted friend knowledgeable in the law" has advised me that the tenant-landlord law does not apply to a situation where somebody is renting a room in the house you live in. He says that this is covered under contract law because in Virginia, the landlord must own at least four rental units in order for the landlord law to apply; otherwise the contract law applies. He advised that since I only have property, and on top of that, live with my roommate, it is impractical for me to have that person evicted, especially if they cannot be served (this roommate had been gone since the grace period ran out, for 7 days now, and was supposedly in South Carolina with dying grandmother). Even aside from the no service thing, he said I should be able to change the locks and demand all the money owed in exchange for her belongings. He said this would be in effect a possessory lien under contract law. And I know that I his opinion is based on VA law, but GA law tends to parallel VA law, according to him. I have looked directly at the GA code myself but it does not really describe what is and what is not covered under the landlord law. I did find some supporting material on a different opinion website that distinguished between renting a room such as a hotel room versus renting a room to live in, but this exception was not in the code itself, and there could be a lot of other exceptions in the law such as on the one in VA that most people are not aware of. Some people even think that if they have a guest that won't leave that they have to evict them! And peopl in Virginia don’t seem to know this loophole (or exception rather) from what I see posted on other sites!! Anyway, I agree with my advisor that this is a civil manner and that if I should have to sue my former "tenant" in court to get my money back (although she will not tell me where she moves, making it impossible for me to serve her), then she should also have to sue me in civil court to get her things back. Please advise.
    Thanks!!

    Additionally, I saw a post on another website that said that I (or people in my situation) should be using a roommate agreement instead of a tenant agreement. Is this correct? Where in the GA code is this exception mentioned? How would this change my rights as related to the question above? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  2. Gail_in_Georgia

    Gail_in_Georgia Moderator

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    Your friend is correct that the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does not apply to certain landlords in Virginia (i.e., a landlord who owns and rents ten - not four - or fewer single family homes) but Georgia is not covered by Virginia laws.

    Landlords who own 10 or fewer homes in Georgia are not covered by some of the landlord/tenant laws "bigger" landlords have but these involve issues such as where security deposits must be held.

    If you are renting a room to someone, you are a landlord and they are a tenant. If you are allowing someone to stay with you rent free they are a guest. You can try to use whatever terminology you wish but the fact remains that unless you're running a hotel, you're the landlord and they're the tenant.

    Because this is an arrangement where they live in the unit (as opposed to renting the space for commercial reasons), your contract with them is for a residential, not commercial property (in commercial leases the landlord has more leeway in changing locks and holding property).

    Simply put if you wish them out, you file for a dispossessory affidavit (our version of eviction) down at the Civil/Magistrates court; they are served via "tack and mail", they have 7 days to respond; if they don't, you go back to request the actual affidavit, placing the property back under your control.

    You CANNOT change locks or hold possessions without a court order granting you the ability to do this. You face being sued by your tenant if you try this.

    Georgia tends to be very favorable toward the landlord but this does not mean you can hold a tenants property hostage nor change locks without a court order granting you the right to do so. Such laws preventing this are there because landlords have, in the past, done exactly that.

    Gail
     
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  3. helpmeplease1

    helpmeplease1 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    ok thank you very much for clarifying!!!
     
  4. jharris352

    jharris352 New Member

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    Gail, though I totally agree with your advice I have never heard of a "Dispossessory affidavit" and I have been in real estate here in GA for 15 years. I believe you mean that you file a Complaint for Possession and receive a Writ of Possession. I actually practiced law in Virginia and while certain landlords don't fall into the VRLT Act there is still a landlord tenant relationship that requires an eviction process.

    Anyway, as usual I agree with your actual advice.
     
  5. Gail_in_Georgia

    Gail_in_Georgia Moderator

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