1. Determine rent due date in the lease agreement (for houses in Georgia usually due on fist)
2. Call tenant when rent becomes late
3. On the fifth of the month if rent is still due and pass grace period (if there is one),
then you need to send a Demand of Possession Letter.
4. On the tenth of the month if rent is still due then file a dispossessory warrant for non payment of rent with the Magistrate Court in the County where the rental home is located. Magistrate Court is normally located at or next to the County Courthouse (in Fulton, there is also a North Fulton annex on Roswell road where you can file)
Note: You must have sent the Demand Letter in step 3 prior to filing the warrant.
File in the legal names of the tenants exactly as appears on the lease agreement.
Include all rent and fees due. You will pay the Magistrate Court between $80 and $120 to file in most cases.
The Magistrate Court will have the Sheriff's Marshalls serve the warrant summons on the defendant (tenants)..
Depending on the County and their schedule, it usually takes from one to 7 days to serve the summons.
The summons will require the tenant to answer to the court within seven days from the date of the actual service unless the seventh day is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, in which case the answer may be made on the next day which is not a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday. The last possible date to answer shall be stated on the summons. Landlords would be wise not to advise the tenant about time requirements, instead tell them to just read the summons as everything is there in writing.
In an action for nonpayment of rent, the tenant shall be allowed to tender to the landlord, within seven days of the day the tenant was served with the summons pursuant to Code Section 44-7-51, all rents allegedly owed plus the cost of the dispossessory warrant. Comment: This means if this is the first demand in the prior 12 months, then you must accept payment in full of rent, fees and cost of the warrant if the tenant tenders it to you within 7 days of the day the warrant was served.
However, the code states that a landlord is required to accept such a tender from any individual tenant after the issuance of a dispossessory summons only once in any 12 month period. Comment: This means you don't have to keep doing this over and over again. The second time you have to file a warrant within a 12 month period you can advise the tenant that you will not accept payment until the time the tenant has returned possession to you.
If the tenant fails to answer as provided in subsection (b) of Code Section 44-7-51, the court shall issue a writ of possession
instanter notwithstanding Code Section 9-11-55 or Code Section 9-11-62; Comment: If tenant does not answer to Court by the deadline, then you can file with the same Magistrate Court for a Writ of Possession. Normally costs about $25. This is the last notice to the tenant that the eviction is forthcoming in short order. Normally the eviction will take place within 2 to 7 days from the filing of the Writ of Possession. Also if the tenant fails to answer, the (landlord) plaintiff shall be entitled to a verdict and judgment by default for all rents due.
If the tenant answers, a trial will take place in the magistrate court. These are normally scheduled to take place within a week or so. The defendant shall be allowed to remain in possession of the premises pending the final outcome of the trail. If the tenant's answer is a non legal answer, i.e. - lost job, car broke down, just didn't have the money, then the judge will mostly likely rule the tenant must vacate the property within 10 days.
If, on the trial of the case, the judgment is against the tenant, judgment shall be entered against the tenant for all rents due and for any other claim relating to the dispute. The court shall issue a writ of possession, both of execution for the judgment amount and a writ to be effective at the expiration of ten days after the date such judgment was entered.
Anytime that an eviction takes place, the Sheriff's Marshall shall be present. The landlord should contact the Magistrate Court to coordinate the date and time of the eviction. It is up to the landlord to physically remove the tenant's belongings to the nearest public street while the Marshall is present at the property. It may be a good idea to change the locks at that time and to secure the property. It is not a good idea to disturb or take any of the tenant's belonging off the street until the next day.
The eviction process is hard process but is required if you are in the land lording business.
As a landlord, you may elect to accept payment in full from the tenant at any time during this process. It would be wise to only accept full payment and in certified funds. Once you take payment, even partial payment, it may invalidate the whole process and you will have to begin over.
This is not meant to be legal advice but statement of opinion. You should consult an attorney or read the Georgia code yourself.