2018 Georgia Code
Title 44 - Property
Chapter 7 - Landlord and Tenant
Article 3 - Dispossessory Proceedings
§ 44-7-51. Issuance of summons; service; time for answer; defenses and counterclaims
(a) When the affidavit provided for in Code Section 44-7-50 is made, the judge of the superior court, the state court, or any other court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or the judge, clerk, or deputy clerk of the magistrate court shall grant and issue a summons to the sheriff or his deputy or to any lawful constable of the county where the land is located. A copy of the summons and a copy of the affidavit shall be personally served upon the defendant. If the sheriff is unable to serve the defendant personally, service may be had by delivering the summons and the affidavit to any person who is sui juris residing on the premises or, if after reasonable effort no such person is found residing on the premises, by posting a copy of the summons and the affidavit on the door of the premises and, on the same day of such posting, by enclosing, directing, stamping, and mailing by first-class mail a copy of the summons and the affidavit to the defendant at his last known address, if any, and making an entry of this action on the affidavit filed in the case.
(b) The summons served on the defendant pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section shall command and require the tenant to answer either orally or in writing within seven days from the date of the actual service unless the seventh day is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday, in which case the answer may be made on the next day which is not a Saturday, a Sunday, or a legal holiday. If the answer is oral, the substance thereof shall be endorsed on the dispossessory affidavit. The answer may contain any legal or equitable defense or counterclaim. The landlord need not appear on the date of the tenant's response. The last possible date to answer shall be stated on the summons.
(c) If service is by posting a copy of the summons and the affidavit on the door of the premises and mailing a copy of the summons and the affidavit to the defendant, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, the court shall have jurisdiction to enter a default judgment for possession of the premises in the absence of an answer being filed, but in such instance a default judgment for money owed may not be entered unless the defendant files an answer or otherwise makes an appearance in the case.