Magistrate Court - Landlord/Tenant FAQ's

What are the requirements for a landlord filing a dispossessory warrant?
There must be a landlord/tenant relationship 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?
Personal service on the tenant of the dispossessory warrant must be attempted. In the event the sheriff cannot serve the tenant personally, the sheriff may serve the dispossessory warrant 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 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 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 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.

 
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