Legislature sends proposed law to governor’s desk to assure Georgia renters livable homes

Georgia State Capitol on mostly sunny day

by Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]

March 26, 2024

A proposal to increase protections for Georgia renters is now in the governor’s hands after receiving a final vote in the House Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Dalton Republican Rep. Kasey Carpenter, sailed through the House a year ago before stalling in the Senate. The measure fared better in the Senate this year, advancing with only a minor change and finding overwhelming support last week.

Under the measure, rental properties must be “fit for human habitation” and security deposits are capped at two months’ rent. It also requires landlords to give tenants a three-day grace period after failing to pay rent and bars them from turning off the air conditioning during an eviction process.

“For the first in Georgia code we are going to put ‘fit for human habitation’ for the rights of tenants across this state,” Carpenter said Tuesday.

The north Georgia lawmaker gave an emotional speech last year, recalling the hardships of his own childhood growing up in Whitfield County. He said at the time his family moved 16 times in 18 years, mostly living in rental properties. When he was 17, his family spent a three-month period during one winter without heat.

“We always try to say Georgia is the best place to work and play but sometimes for some folks, it’s not always the best place to live,” Carpenter said Tuesday. “This legislation will move that ball forward so we protect Georgia renters.” 

House Speaker Jon Burns celebrated the bill’s final passage Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to applaud themselves.

Sen. Brian Strickland, a McDonough Republican who carried the bill in the Senate, called the provisions “common sense standards.”

Carpenter has said the bill is in response to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s 2022 investigation that showed how the business practices of apartment owners have trapped Atlanta-area renters in unsafe and unsanitary conditions. 

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