Property Owners are Responsible for Repairs in Georgia

Real Estate Agent with Solid Source Property Management, Inc.

As a professional property manager, we work with a wide variety of properties and owners. Some of our owners are local, but most are out of state or out of country. It seems to me the biggest complaints that we receive in our industry revolves around repairs. Owners don't understand why they have to be responsible for maintaining their own property when someone else is living in the property.

So I wanted to share with you why owners need to perform the repairs and some things to be aware of. The number one reason that an owner needs to repair the property is because it is the law here in Georgia and I would assume in other states as well. Section 44-7-13 of the State of Georgia Landlord Tenant Law Official Code clearly states "The landlord must keep the premises in repair. He shall be liable for all substantial improvements placed upon the premises by his consent."

In Georgia, the only issues I have ever seen a tenant win in a legal case were when the owner did not make repairs in a timely or professional manner. The law provides a provision for the tenant to withhold their rent in lieu of repairs if the repairs are not done. Other than repairs, there is not another reason a tenant has for not paying their rent. So why would an owner want to open themselves up to litigation and not perform the repair?

I suppose it comes down to cost. I find it funny when I speak with owners and ask them if they would want to pay to live in a property where the sink constantly drips, or the stove doesn't work, or the HVAC isn't cooling properly and they reply of course not, but some expect their tenants to. The owners don't realize that they are getting the advantage of the repair? The get the tax benefits from the property, they get the appreciation of the property, they may get the principal pay down and they may be making cash flow depending on their loan. So they reap all of these benefits. But they don't want to maintain the property.

Most property management companies like ours buy in bulk, that means that we get better service and better pricing that a typical individual would get. We do charge a fee to perform the repair or coordinate the request if not done by the in house maintenance staff. Yet, even then we are significantly cheaper on most items and yet the owners still complain.

What they don't understand is that we hire professionals who have their own insurance, liability coverage, workman's compensation, and are screened. We do this to protect our owners as well as our company. So yes, we may be more expensive that their brother Bob, but overall, we save them time and money.

In addition, when a tenant doesn't have all the services of the home working properly, they could sue for a portion of the rent as credit since they didn't have full enjoyment of the home. In today's market, losing a good tenant due to non performance of repairs could cost an owner several thousands of dollars in vacancies and turn key. Why not treat them fairly and encourage them to stay- the owner will make a lot more money in the long run by taking care of a tenant.

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