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What Does It Take to Evict a Commercial Tenant in Georgia??

Poole Huffman, LLC

GreenvilleOnline.com recently reported on the closure of several fast-food chicken restaurants in that area. The restaurant chain, headquartered in Atlanta, indicated that the 24 locations in Georgia and South Carolina were closed after the landlords of those properties evicted the fast-food tenants. Fortunately for Atlanta-area fans of the chain’s chicken, there are still many locations open in north Georgia. The sudden closure of these restaurants may lead one to wonder, though:  what is required for a landlord in Georgia to evict its commercial tenant? The reality is that there are multiple steps required by the law, and they must be carried out with precision to ensure that the court will grant the eviction order, which is why a Georgia commercial landlord should make sure to work with an experienced Georgia landlord-tenant attorney when it comes time to pursue an eviction.

Of course, the first thing that must happen for a landlord to seek an eviction is that the tenant must be in default. The commercial lease agreement between the landlord and tenant will typically state the actions or inactions that will lead to the tenant being in default. These can be things like non-payment of rent, late payment of rent, continuing to occupy the property after the end of the lease term, or using the property for a purpose expressly forbidden by the lease.

Once one or more of these things happens, the landlord must follow the rules laid out in the Georgia Code. First, the landlord must submit to the tenant a “demand for possession” letter. This letter informs the tenant that it is in default and that the landlord intends to begin legal proceedings to evict the tenant. That letter will also tell the tenant that it must vacate the property and return possession to the landlord.

If the tenant does not leave, the landlord must file what is known as a Dispossessory Affidavit with the proper court. In this affidavit, the landlord must state the name of the tenant, how the tenant defaulted, and how much the tenant owes as a result of the breach of the lease. It must also state that the tenant failed to comply with the demand for possession letter that the landlord sent to the tenant.

The tenant will be served with a summons by the sheriff and will be given seven business days to respond. If the tenant does not respond, the court will either grant the landlord what’s called a “writ of possession,” giving it the right to re-take the property, or else the court will schedule the case for trial.

One thing that landlords should note is that following all of the rules is extremely important. Failing to follow all of the rules diligently may stop you from getting your order granting you possession.

Evicting your tenant yourself, known as “self-help,” is also not a good idea, since this may actually give your tenant a legal claim for compensation against you as the landlord.

If you are a commercial landlord seeking to evict a tenant who is in default, it is important to make sure that you are crossing all of your T’s and dotting all of your I’s as required by the Georgia statutes. The knowledgeable Atlanta landlord-tenant attorneys at Poole Huffman, LLC have been working with commercial landlords for many years to help them with eviction actions, among many other types of needs. Contact our attorneys online or by calling 404-373-4008 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

Property Investors Beware: “self-Help” Evictions Are Never an Option, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, June 18, 2015

Worried about Collecting on a Judgment against your Tenant? Don’t Stress, Distress!, Atlanta Business Litigation Attorneys Blog, June 5, 2013

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