Atlanta landlords who need to evict a tenant must follow the laws of Fulton County. Evictions can be conducted in less than 30 days, but they must be addressed through the court system. The landlord begins the eviction process by filing paperwork asking for a court order. If it is granted, the marshal’s office will then help the landlord regain control of the rental property.
Three Reasons for Eviction
Landlords can legally evict under the following circumstances:
- The tenant has not paid rent as it becomes due.
- The tenant is still living at a property even though the lease has expired.
- The rental property is part of a foreclosure sale.
Starting the Eviction Process
To start the eviction process, the landlord must file an original form and three copies at the Magistrate Court office or the Dispossessory Office at the Justice Center Tower. The forms can be found on the Fulton County website or obtained at either filing office. The landlord should also expect to pay a filing fee, which is determined by the number of tenants being evicted.
Landlords who cannot afford the filing fees can file an Affidavit of Indigence, which is a form that asks the court to waive the filing fees due to financial difficulties. A judge will use the information about the landlord’s income and expenses to decide if the landlord meets the low-income requirements.
Once the forms have been filed, an eviction warrant will be issued by the court. An officer from the Fulton County Marshal’s Office will tack a notice of eviction onto the rental property and send another copy of the eviction by mail. If requested, the marshal may deliver the eviction notice directly to the tenant or give the notice to someone of legal age who resides on the property.
Waiting for an Eviction Response
Tenants have seven days to contest the warrant. To legally dispute eviction, the tenant must file an answer with the court. If the eviction is contested, the Fulton County court system will schedule a court date at least seven days after the answer has been filed. If the tenant does not file a dispute with the court, the eviction will proceed.
Answering a Contested Warrant
If the warrant is contested, the tenant and landlord will meet in court and discuss their disagreement before a judge. Landlords should bring a copy of the lease and other proof that the tenant has not followed the agreement to the court hearing. Sometimes formal mediation is used for the landlord and tenant to reach an agreement. If the tenant believes that the landlord has not met his legal responsibilities, the tenant can also choose to counter-sue during the same court case.
Executing a Writ of Possession
If the tenant loses the court case or does not file to contest the eviction warrant, the landlord should file paperwork at the courthouse to ask for a Writ of Possession. This court order gives the landlord the legal standing to work with the marshal’s office and evict the tenant.
Landlords should not accept back rent payments at this time unless they are willing to forgo the eviction process. Once the eviction is completed, the landlord can try to recuperate back rent through a collection agency or civil suit.
Once the Writ of Possession application has been processed, the marshal’s office will contact the landlord. The landlord can then schedule a day and time for the eviction. The marshal will be present during the eviction, but the landlord must arrange for any necessary labor to move the tenant’s possessions out of the rental unit.
If the eviction is not contested, most landlords can evict their tenants within 30 days. The key to an expedient eviction is to file the necessary forms with the court immediately and be prepared with a copy of the lease, canceled checks and other supporting documentation in case the eviction is contested. Even if the landlord is having financial difficulties, an Affidavit of Indigence and free legal help from legal aid should make the process accessible.
Please note: These articles are for informational purposes and we advise you to consult an attorney for more specific information related to your situation.