My name is Andy Ritan and I am the owner and broker of Atlanta Property Management Group, a residential property management company in Atlanta, Georgia.
This video is about a truly indispensable form for every residential landlord: The demand letter. The form is available to download for free from our website, atlantapropertymanagement.com, at the DIY landlording page.
The demand letter, sometimes called a "3 day pay or quit" letter, is the first step in the dispossessory process, and is the first step to take when the rent is not paid.
In Georgia, before you can file a dispossessory warrant at the county courthouse, you must first notify the tenant in writing that you demand that they either pay the balance they owe in full or move out of the property. Such a written notice is called a "demand letter," or "3 day pay or quit" letter. There are a few things that must be included in the demand letter: You must require the tenant to either pay up or move out. You must give the a tenant a specific date by which they must move out: 3 business days is as good a practice as any. You must demand a specific amount of money, if you are asking for back rent, or other fees owed in addition to possession.
Here are few things that might contribute the total amount named in a demand letter:
- All rent the back rent owed.
- Late fees that have accrued, if late fees are specified in your lease.
- NSF fees, if any prior tenant rent payments came back NSF, and if your lease allows you to charge fees for checks returned NSF.
- Any other amounts the tenant may owe under the lease, such as for tenant-caused damage, fines assessed against the owner by the Home Owner's Association for tenant violations and the like.
It is a good idea to require payment in certified funds, as my demand letter does.
Lastly, if the tenant does not pay or move out, and we do file a dispossessary warrant at the courthouse, then we specify a dollar amount in our demand letter we will require the tenant pay to make us whole for the expenses we will incur to initiate the dispossessary action.
The next step is to go to the county courthouse to file a dispossessory warrant. The first thing the clerk will ask is whether you have sent the tenant a demand letter. If you have not sent a demand letter, you'll have to go back home, send the letter, and return to the courthouse later to file your dispossessory warrant.
The tenant may contact you after they receive your demand letter and promise to pay by a specific date: you say, "I appreciate your sincere desire to pay the full amount owed. Since I believe that you will pay as agreed, then you should consider the dispossessory warrant I am about to file as merely a formality. Once you pay the full amount owed in certified funds, I will call off the dispossessory and re-instate your lease. If you do not pay the full balance owed, then you should expect a court date and after that you should prepare to move out."
You may look to other videos in this series which will describe the general dispossessory process.
I am not an attorney and do not provide legal advice. The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.
Good luck out there! If you'd like our help with your dispossessory, please find us at atlantapropertymanagement.com.