Many Atlantans have embraced apartment living in the last few years. With the seemingly endless development of rental units around the city, the population of apartment-dwellers has seen a major uptick. While renting today is far from the days of poor peasants versus oppressive gentry landlords, sometimes it can still feel like you're getting screwed. It's true that as a tenant you have certain rights in Georgia, but so do landlords. Before you take up torches and pitchforks and storm a nobleman's house, here are some things you should definitely know before — or while — renting in the ATL:
· It's best to ask about skeletons in the closet. Because, if you don't ask, they don't have to tell you. Georgia requires that landlords disclose the fact that a murder has happened in an apartment, BUT they're only required to do so if the tenant asks.
· Park at your own risk! Landlords are perfectly within their right to tow your car from their premises, assuming there is signage indicating intent to tow you if you're parked in a spot they don't want you to be. Unless there are four units or less. Then no sign is required.
· Your partner could cost you your lease! Many leases only allow for those who have signed the document to live in a residence. If your significant other comes around every night, you could end up violating your lease. One-night stands are the safest way to go.
· "How much do you weigh?" Georgia law does not limit what questions a landlord can ask on a lease application. But keep in mind the Fair Housing Act forbids landlords from discriminating against renters because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children. So that's something.
· "You wanted to cook? Seriously?" Landlords aren't required to provide appliances, so check the lease before assuming you can settle in and boil some water.
· Just because it's gone, it doesn't mean you get to leave. If your apartment is destroyed through a series of unfortunate events that are not caused by the landlord, the tenant is still liable for the rent.
· On the plus side, landlords are required to provide smoke detectors — because yay safety! But don't get too excited; the renter is responsible for the batteries.
Of course, all of these things represent the worst-case of renting. So while your rental experience is likely to be just fine, and most landlords aren't terrible people, it's good to know some of the basic rules before you rent.
· Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook [State of Georgia]