April 19, 2017

Apartment move-out inspection and security deposit refund requirements

Dear Consumer Ed:

In the state of Georgia how much time do landlords have to inspect and give you an itemized list of damages after you move out of an apartment?  To refund the security deposit?  Are there treble damages in Georgia if they break the rules?

Consumer Ed says: 

Move-out inspections are required by landlords who employ a management agent or who own more than ten rental units, including units owned by their spouse and/or children. If your landlord falls into one of those categories, he or she has three business days after you have moved out of your apartment and notified the landlord that you have moved out, to inspect the apartment for damage, compile a comprehensive list of any damage done to the apartment, and estimate the dollar value of the damage (if any).  Within five business days after the landlord’s inspection you will have the right to review the list and inspect the property to determine the accuracy of the list.  The cost or estimated cost of agreed damages may be charged against your security deposit.  Note that if a landlord fails to conduct a required move-out inspection, he or she may not use your security deposit to pay for any damages.

Within one month after your lease is terminated or you have moved out and notified your landlord, your full security deposit or the reduced amount of your security deposit (e.g. if there are agreed damages, unpaid rent, or money due as a result of an early lease termination) must be refunded by your landlord.  

Yes, there are treble damages in Georgia. This applies only to landlords who own more than ten rental units or use a third party to manage the units. This means that if your landlord fails to return the amount of your security deposit that is due to you within 30 days, your landlord may be liable for three times the amount of the security deposit that should have been paid to you plus attorney fees. 

If you cannot reach an agreement as to the amount of damages that can be charged against your security deposit and/or the landlord fails to refund your security deposit, you should consult with an attorney about the options you have to enforce your rights against your landlord.

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