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Latest Legal and Judiciary News and Articles

Provided courtesy of the Dekalb County Superior Court System

Rental Laws in Georgia for Tenants and Homeowners

landlord-tenantRental laws are designed to ensure that both tenants and homeowners understand some of the legal questions and issues that may arise from time to time. Rental laws in Georgia for tenants and homeowners are not any different. Though the laws may differ from what you may find in another state the bottom line is that the laws are there to guide both parties without involving a lawyer. Below we look at the main rental laws in Georgia.

Rent

There is no statute that proscribes the amount that landlords should charge as rent for single and multi-unit residential properties. There is also no statute on notices for rent increase, time when rent is due, and the grace period for rent payment allowed.

Security Deposit

The state of Georgia allows homeowners to ask for a security deposit. The law, however, does not specify the amount the landlord can ask as security deposit. This deposit should be placed in an escrow account and landlord has to give a written note to the tenants with the escrow account details. Homeowners and families that own 10 or less units are exempted from this requirement as long as the management of the units is not left to third parties.

The landlord is not required to put the deposit in an account that bears some interest. The landlord is also not required to pay any interest on security deposit.

The landlord is allowed to deduct the deposit in certain situations. These include;

– When the tenant has not paid rent or is late in doing the same

– When the tenant has accumulated utility charges and pet fees

– When a tenant abandons the property

– When tenants contract third parties to carry out cleaning and repair works

– When the tenant causes actual damage to the property. This, however, only applies if the landlord did something to mitigate the damage on property.

After the tenant moves, the landlord is required by law to return the deposit within 30 days.

Other Fees

Landlords are allowed to charge other fees for their properties. These fees include application fees and pet fees. Any non- refundable fees should not be part of the security deposit.  There are also potential fees for credit checks, background checks and other checks at the discretion of the landlord. For examples of non credit check apartments, you can check out this reputable no credit check apartment company.

Disclosures

A landlord is required to disclose if there is a person required to act on their behalf. The landlord should also disclose all existing damages to the property. All this should be part of the lease agreement.

Tenancy Termination

To terminate a lease with no end or a month to month lease the landlord is required to give the tenant a 60 days’ notice while the tenant must give the landlord a 30 days’ notice. For a lease with a fixed end date neither party is required to give a notice. There is not statute on how a week to week lease termination should be handled.

In the case of nonpayment of rent and other fees the landlord can terminate the lease without any notice. To avoid being evicted, the tenant must pay the required fees within 7 days.

This is just an outline of the rental laws in Georgia for tenants and homeowners. You can find more information online if you have more questions about any of the above or more areas. Just be confident because the state has put certain measures to protect you from harassment and ensure that both landlords and tenants hold up to their end of the bargain at the end of the day.

Divorce Law Information from State to State

Just like marriage, divorce is a state-level issue. So Georgia has its own divorce laws that may differ from the laws of other states. One difference is how long it can take. In California, as a California divorce attorney would tell you, it takes at least six months to get a divorce in the Golden State. In Georgia, in theory, the it can be done more quickly. If your divorce is as simple as possible and “uncontested,” that is, both sides come to an agreement on the division of assets and arrangement for custody of all children on their own, then you can be granted a divorce 30 days after filing. Of course, most divorces take much longer. And if you have to go to trial to work out the terms of your settlement, it could take years.

Divorce laws vary from State to State, be sure to know the differences.
Divorce laws vary from State to State, be sure to know the differences.

Another thing to consider is whether you will be pursuing a “fault” or “no-fault” divorce, as Georgia is one of a minority of states to offer both. To file a “no-fault” divorce one spouse must simply assert that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” It does not require the cooperation of the other spouse.

A “fault” divorce can be pursued when one spouse destroyed the marriage, whether by adultery, desertion, imprisonment, cruelty, drug addiction, or mental illness (determined by a court of competent jurisdiction), among other grounds.

Fault divorces are more complicated and come with more caveats, which is why no-fault divorces are far more common. For example, adultery, desertion, cruel treatment or intoxication are invalidated as grounds for divorce if any of the above were “occasioned by the collusion of the parties,” consented to by the complaining party, committed by both parties, or condoned by the complaining party after the fact. With all that muck to wade through, most people simply decide to say the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and leave it at that.

Sometimes, a “fault” divorce is worth pursuing if the complainant wants to make sure that the respondent be ineligible for alimony payments for dissolving the marriage by adultery or desertion. Otherwise alimony is determined by several factors, including the standard of living, the duration of the marriage, the age and condition of both parties, both parties’ financial resources, the time required for one party to get trained or educated to become employable, the contribution of each spouse to the marriage, and anything else anyone can argue to be relevant.

Annulment is another option for Georgians who are in marriages which have produced no children and aren’t expecting any and whose marriage is voidable. A marriage may be voidable for any of the following reasons: 1, The spouses are close relatives; 2, at least one of the spouses was mentally unfit to enter into a contract; 3, at least one spouse was under the age of 16 at the time of the marriage; 4, one of the spouses was forced into the marriage; 5, one of the pouses was “fraudulently induced” to enter the marriage; or 6, bigamy. In Georgia, an annulment is granted only to the innocent party.

 

 

 

 

A Look Back on Divorce Law

A divorce is never an easy thing to go through, but it used to be a lot worse. Until relatively recently, the person seeking a divorce had to argue that the spouse was at “fault” either by way of adultery, abandonment, cruel treatment, or mental illness. And any of those causes could be nullified by the condoning or conniving or recrimination of the petitioning spouse.

As all divorce lawyers in California could no doubt tell you, the Golden State became the first in the union to allow no-fault divorces in 1969, which don’t please everyone (presumably the spouse who is precipitously and unceremoniously divorced) but certainly make the process a lot simpler. A no-fault divorce allowed the dissolution of a marriage without accusing one of the parties with adultery or a similar transgression.

divorce-decreeEventually other states followed California’s lead. At this point, all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow no-fault divorce. In fact, only 33 states still allow for fault divorces, Georgia being one of them. That means that in 17 states and the District of Columbia, the petitioner can’t legally cast blame on the respondent even if he or she is filing in response to adultery, cruelty, or abandonment.

In the early decades of the United States, women’s status as second-class legal entities (or in some cases, non-entities) made it difficult to walk away from a divorce with any of the shared assets. Obviously, that gave wives a strong disincentive to seek divorce no matter what state their marriage was in.

The first major attempts to remedy the situation were the Married Women’s Property Acts passed by individual states beginning in 1839, which allowed women possess real and personal property, sign contracts, file lawsuits, and inherit independently. Despite the legislation, women still found themselves at a financial disadvantage in divorce proceedings, and divorce did not become terribly common until much later.

Statistically, women initiated more than two-thirds of all divorce cases in the United States. In 2002, 29% of first marriages among women aged 15-44 were disrupted (by divorce, annulment, or separation) within 10 years. You may have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce. That claim is based on the ratio of marriages to divorces in any given year, which is around 2:1. A 2012 estimate from PolitiFact put the probably of a marriage ending in divorce (however long the marriage lasts) at 40%-50%.

Divorce rates vary according to several factors including ethnicity, the importance of religion in the marriage, family histories of divorce, the timing of the birth of the first child, and the presence of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Education level also plays a significant role. A 2012 study revealed that having at least a bachelor’s degree can greatly increase the chances of your marriage lasting at least 20 years. Income can affect divorce rates, but only for men. That is to say, men who earn high incomes are less likely to get divorced than men who earn low incomes. A woman’s income has no observable affect on her likelihood of divorce, but it does affect her likelihood of getting married in the first place.

Advice for Personal Injury Law Procedures

When you suffer a personal injury – which can be physical, mental, or emotional – make sure to get as much documentation of the injury as you can, and contact witnesses if there are any. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, but aren’t sure how great your case is, a personal injury lawyer can help. Make sure to choose one who works on a “no win, no fee” policy. They’ll have the incentive to fight for you, and they won’t be tempted to take on an unwinnable case.

The first thing to know when considering filing a personal injury claim in Georgia is the statue of limitations. You’ve got two years from the date of your injury to file your claim. If you’re filing against a city or county government, you’ve only got six months.

personal-injury-lawPersonal injury is not quite as simple as it looks. In Georgia, if you file a personal injury claim, you can expect that the defendant will respond with his or her own claim to try to mitigate their liability. That’s because Georgia has a modified comparative fault rule, meaning the court can determine that both parties bear some responsibility for the injury, and whatever percentage of fault is assigned to the injured party take a proportional bite out of the settlement. And if the injured party is determined to be at least 50-percent at fault, he or she won’t collect anything.

Also know punitive damages for a personal injury are capped at $250,000 in Georgia. Up to that limit you can claim for medical expenses like ambulance rides, emergency room care, hospitalization, surgeries, and prescription drugs as well as resultant income loss. You can also claim for damage to your physical and emotional well-being.

When it comes down to it, you’re likely going to want to consult with a personal injury lawyer who can see all the angles of your claim and advise as to the best course of action. Litigation costs money – even if it’s the lawyer’s – and a risk-benefit analyis needs to be undertaken. How much time and money is the case going to take? How much money can you claim? How likely are you to win? Will the other party be able to argue you were at least partially at fauly? Only a professional can weigh these factors and decide when it’s best to pursue a personal injury claim and when it’s not.

A professional will also be able to help you potentially settle without every having to sue in the first place, which can be a lot quicker and a lot less painful. A typical out-of-court settlement can be reached in eight months to a year. A lawsuit can take appreciably longer. But it’s become proverbial to observe that the wheels of justice turn slowly. Sometimes you’re lucky if they’re turning at all – let alone toward some place you’re actually looking to go.

Medical Malpractice in Georgia and Elsewhere

legal-scalesWhen filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s important to not the statute of limitations – or in the other words limited time after the alleged malpractice one has to file. The statute of limitations on medical malpractice varies by state and type of malpractice

In Georgia, there are two main categories of malpractice, an injury and a failure to diagnose. You have two years from the date of the injury to file a malpractice claim for it. If you have claim from a failure to diagnose, that two-year time period begins at the date you became aware of the problem.

It’s possible in some cases that the statute of limitations can be even shorter, as with malpractice cases involving municipalities. In those situations you may have a year or less to file. But even if you think the statute of limitations may have passed for your claim, it’s important consult with attorneys for medical malpractice cases, who know the ins and outs of medical malpractice law and may be able to present you with a range of options you didn’t know you had.

In any case, you’ll want to work with an attorney who operates on a “no win, no fee” basis. It gives them an extra incentive to fight for you, and it frees you up to take a risk you might not otherwise have been able to afford.

In judging whether you have a good case, you have to think about the cost/benefit of filing. An attorney  might spend a $100,000 and several years to settle a malpractice case. If the length and cost of the legal battle adds up to more than you’re seeking in damages, it’s just not wise to pursue it. Unfortunately, that means many legitimate cases worth several thousands of dollars are just not worth pursuing – for the lawyer or the client. Still, it might be best for a lawyer to decide this question, so don’t let that necessarily stop you from taking the first step.

The other element is liability. The attorney has to be confident not only that the actions of the caregiver fell below the professional standard of care, but that those actions resulted in an injury that would have otherwise been avoided. If the lawyer doesn’t think the case meets those criteria, he or she won’t likely represent you. That might be disappointing, but it’s better to be turned away by a lawyer than to have your time wasted and your hopes wrongly raised. This aspect is crucial. Most malpractice cases are drawn out arguments over this very issue, and the defendant’s attorneys will be doing everything they can to mount an argument that the negligence of the defendant isn’t responsible for the injuries the plaintiff suffers from – that they are the result instead of the underlying medical condition.

If your case is rejected by one lawyer, but you strongly disagree, feel free to seek the advice of another one. You never know, you may find an attorney who can present an angle on your malpractice case which puts the odds in your favor.