They happen. What, evictions? Sometimes.
If you’re a landlord, chances are you’ll have to file for an eviction at some point. I’d like to walk you through what you should do when filing for dispossessory so you won’t feel as unprepared as I did the first time I had to.
Start by notifying your tenant that they haven’t paid by giving them a letter of demand. This letter informs your tenants how much they owe, any late fees they have incurred and how long they have to bring their account current before a dispossessory is filed on their behalf. Typically landlords allow tenants three days to pay.
After the third day, you’ll need to file the affidavit for dispossessory. You can do this online or in person at the courthouse.
I prefer to go to the courthouse for a multitude of reasons. First, the people there are awesome. I love the girls at the Gordon County Magistrate Court office. They have great personalities, they’re super nice and always very helpful. I spend more time at this office than in any other, but I’ve found the same to be true for the folks at the Bartow County Courthouse.
Next, let’s talk about the affidavit for dispossessory.
At the top, it asks for the plaintiff’s and defendant’s names and addresses. The Landlord is the plaintiff; the tenant is the defendant. If you can’t remember who’s who, ask the girls in the office.
Next, you have to cite the reason for your case. There will be several scenarios to choose from; the one you are looking for is almost always the section that states “Tenant fails to pay the rent which is now past due.” Then you choose what you’d like to have happen. Do you want the house back, or are you willing to let them pay in order to stay? In Georgia, you have to allow the tenant the opportunity to pay one time each calendar year before you demand the property.
The last section is where you detail what your tenants owe. Here you put their monthly rent rate, the past due amount (including late fees), court cost and finally the rent per day consistent with the lease. This becomes important when seeking a money judgment.
Finally, you’ll choose either to have a process server or the sheriff serve the dispossessory. When possible, use a process server. They’ll guarantee personal service which is needed should you want to pursue a garnishment.
After the affidavit is served, the tenants have seven days to answer it. If they don’t answer, then you automatically get a writ of possession– the legal document that gives you the house back.
If your tenants do not answer, and you filed personally at the courthouse, you should have your house back by the 17th of the month. If you filed online, however, it’s not so quick. Let me explain.
We decided to file online for a property in Cobb County since we live pretty far away from that courthouse. That was on the 20th of the month; the sheriff served it by the 24th and no one answered because the tenants had moved to Florida. I called the courthouse on the 10th of the following month to find out why we hadn’t received the writ of possession.
It turned out when you file online you have to apply for the writ of possession – which is something I had no idea about. Long story short, it took an entire month to get the writ of possession from when we filed. That equated to two months of no pay before we could do anything.
Take it from me, going to the courthouse works better. It gets you the house back faster and you’re less likely to make a mistake. But when you go, take some brownies for the girls behind the desk. They work hard and deserve a treat.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.