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Dispossessory (Landlord-Tenant)

The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction to hear landlord-tenant disputes which includes dispossessory proceedings. A dispossessory action refers to eviction proceedings brought by a landlord against a tenant. A writ of possession is issued to evict an occupant from the property. The dispossessory complaint is filed under oath by the owner (landlord), testifying to the unlawful possession of the owners property by a tenant. The relationship between the parties must be Landlord and Tenant. The Tenant must be either a Tenant holding over, Tenant at will, a Tenant at sufferance, one not paying rent as it becomes due, or otherwise breaching the conditions of the rental agreement. The Landlord must have made a demand for possession of the premises prior to commencement of the proceedings. Those who consider themselves "agents" of the landlord must comply with Rule 31.

Once a tenant has been served with the Dispossessory Warrant, the tenant has seven (7) days from the date of service to file an answer with our court. If the tenant does not file an answer an eviction may be requested on the eighth (8th) day. If the tenant files an answer, a court date will be set and the plaintiff will be notified by mail of the court date. Once a writ of possession is issued, an eviction must be requested within thirty (30) days of the date of service or a new dispossessory warrant must be filed.

You may use the Magistrate Court Guide and File system to draft your Dispossessory Warrant or Answer. Click here to access the Magistrate Court Guide and file System at https://georgia.tylerhost.net/SRL/ or use the forms provided below.

Forms are in pdf format. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader or other pdf reader program in order to use these forms.

Dispossessory Affidavit

Dispossessory Answer

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The Judges and staff of the Magistrate Court cannot provide legal advice. For answers to any questions you may have, please contact http://www.georgialegalaid.org/eviction. You may also want to review the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook, provided by the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs at http://www.dca.ga.gov/housing/HousingDevelopment/
programs/downloads/Georgia_Landlord_Tenant_Handbook.pdf
. While this publication may be helpful to both landlords and tenants, it should not be a substitute for professional legal advice. This Handbook contains information on Georgia landlord-tenant law as of June 2012 and, as such, may not reflect the status of Georgia law.

Free or reduced cost legal assistance for low-income persons is available through either the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, www.atlantalegalaid.org, the Georgia Legal Services Program, www.glsp.org, or the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, http://avlf.org/get-help/issues/.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What are the requirements for a landlord filing a dispossessory warrant?
    A landlord/tenant relationship must exist between the parties. The tenant must be either a tenant holding over, a tenant at will, a tenant at sufferance, or having failed to pay rent as it becomes due. The landlord must have made a demand for possession of the premises prior to commencement of the proceedings. Please see the list of filing fees for the fee for this service.
  • Where do I file a dispossessory warrant in order to evict my tenants?
    A dispossessory warrant should be filed in the county where the rental property is located.
  • How is the dispossessory warrant served on the tenant?
    The Landlord is responsible for service of the dispossessory action on the tenant. Personal service on the tenant of the dispossessory warrant must be attempted and may be made by the Sherriff or Marshall by payment of the service fee with the warrant filing fee to the Clerk of Court. The Clerk will forward the service fee to the Sheriff/Marshall. In the event the Sheriff or Marshall cannot serve the tenant personally, service may be sui juris, that is, to any person residing at the premises of suitable age and discretion. If the Sheriff is unable to obtain personal or sui juris service of the dispossessory warrant, it may be delivered by tack and mail, that is, posted on the door of the premises. On the same day of posting, the sheriff must mail a copy of the dispossessory warrant to the tenant at the tenant's last known address.
  • I have been served with a dispossessory warrant. What can I do?
    Upon service of a dispossessory warrant, the tenant has seven (7) days to file an answer with the Magistrate Court. Failure to file an answer within seven days of service of the dispossessory warrant may result in a writ of possession being issued against the tenant.
  • If the tenant fails to file an answer within 7 days from service of a dispossessory warrant, what can I do?
    If the tenant fails to file an answer with the Magistrate Court within seven (7) days from service of a dispossessory warrant, the landlord may request a writ of possession by paying the sheriff's service fee to the Magistrate Court. After the Judge has signed the writ of possession, the landlord may contact the Sheriff's Office to set up a time for the eviction. Please see the list of filing fees for the fee for this service.
  • The tenant has filed an answer with the Magistrate Court. When will the hearing be held?
    When an answer if filed, a court date is given for the following week. The tenant will be given a court date at the time the answer is filed. The notice of the court date, along with a copy of the tenant's answer, will be mailed to the landlord by regular mail.
  • The last day to file my answer falls on a weekend or a legal holiday and the Magistrate Court is closed. What can I do?
    When the last day to file an answer falls on a weekend or a legal holiday, the answer may be filed with the Magistrate Court by close of the next business day.
  • Can I file a late answer?
    While you may file a late answer, it will not prevent a Landlord from contacting the Magistrate Court`s office about presenting the writ of possession to a judge for signature.
  • Can I evict the tenant or the tenant's property from my rental property?
    No. A landlord may legally remove a tenant and the tenant's property from rented premises only under the dispossessory procedure. If a landlord uses self-help to evict a tenant without a dispossessory warrant, it is a tort for which the tenant may recover damages in a civil action, and a landlord who cuts off utilities may be subject to misdemeanor prosecution under OCGA 44-7-14.1.
  • My landlord failed to make repairs. Now what?
    Courts in Georgia have held that when a landlord fails to respond to repair requests after a reasonable time, tenants can hire a competent repair person to perform the needed repairs. The cost must be reasonable, and the tenant may deduct the cost from the rent. It's a good idea to put your request in writing, keep all receipts and invoices, hire licensed workers if possible, and perform only needed repairs, not upgrades.

    After the Tenant has given reasonable notice of a defect to the Landlord, and the Landlord has failed to make the repair within a reasonable time, the Tenant may make reasonable repairs and deduct the reasonable cost from the rent, or the Tenant may file a lawsuit against the Landlord for damages arising from the failure to repair.
  • My Landlord owes me money. How can I get it back?
    Along with your Answer, you can file what is called a Counterclaim, which is, essentially, a Statement of Claim filed by the Tenant against the Landlord. If your Counterclaim exceeds $15,000, the jurisdictional limits of the Magistrate Court, the case will be transferred to a court that does have jurisdiction. Usually the entire case will be transferred. However, there may be some cases where the Landlord`s claim will remain in Magistrate Court and the Tenant`s counterclaim will be transferred separately.
  • What do I bring to court?
    You should bring with you all persons who have direct knowledge of the facts related to your case and any documents, photographs, repair bills, receipts, or other physical evidence which you feel would help the Court better understand your case.
  • Will an appeal stop an eviction from going forward?
    An appeal will only stop an eviction if there is an order to require the payment of rental or market value of the property into the registry and the defendant complies with that order every month as long as the appeal is pending.
  • Will the Judgment appear on my credit report?
    It is possible. The Court does not report information to credit reporting agencies, but the Court's records are public records and the agencies have access to the records.