2019 Georgia Code
Title 44 - Property
Chapter 7 - Landlord and Tenant
Article 1 - In General
§ 44-7-24. Establishment of a prima-facie case of retaliation by tenant against landlord; elements; exception; remedies; rebuttable defense
(a) A residential tenant establishes a prima-facie case of retaliation by demonstrating that he or she took an action under subsection (b) of this Code section relating to a life, health, safety, or habitability concern and by demonstrating that his or her landlord took an action under subsection (c) of this Code section.
(b) Elements of a prima-facie case under this Code section include that a tenant:
(1) In good faith exercised or attempted to exercise against a landlord a right or remedy granted to such tenant by contract or law;
(2) Gave a landlord a notice to repair or exercise a remedy under this chapter;
(3) Complained to a governmental entity responsible for enforcing building or housing codes or a public utility, and the tenant:
(A) Claims a building or housing code violation or utility problem that is the duty of the landlord to repair; and
(B) Acts in good faith in that a reasonable person would believe that the complaint is valid and that the violation or problem occurred; or
(4) Established, attempted to establish, or participated in a tenant organization to address problems related to the habitability of the property, such as life, health, or safety concerns.
(c) Elements of a prima-facie case under this Code section include that a landlord, within three months after the date that a tenant takes any action described under subsection (b) of this Code section:
(1) Filed a dispossessory action, except for the grounds set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection (d) of this Code section;
(2) Deprived the tenant of the use of the premises, except for reasons authorized by law;
(3) Decreased services to the tenant;
(4) Increased the tenant's rent or terminated the tenant's lease or rental agreement; or
(5) Materially interfered with the tenant's rights under the tenant's lease or rental agreement.
(d) A landlord shall not be liable for retaliation under this Code section:
(1) For increasing rent or reducing services:
(A) Under an escalation clause in a written lease for utilities, taxes, or insurance;
(B) As part of a pattern of rent increases or for reducing services as part of a pattern of service reductions, for an entire multiunit residential building or complex; or
(C) As part of a rent increase due to the terms of the tenant's or landlord's participation in a program regulated by this state or the federal government involving the receipt of federal funds, tenant assistance, or tax credits; or
(2) For a dispossessory action or lease or rental agreement termination in accordance with this chapter based upon one or more of the following circumstances:
(A) The tenant is delinquent in rent when the landlord gives notice to vacate or files a dispossessory action;
(B) The tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or a guest or invitee of the tenant intentionally damages property on the premises or by word or conduct threatens the personal safety of the landlord, the landlord's employees, or another tenant;
(C) The tenant has breached the lease, other than by holding over, by an action such as violating written lease provisions prohibiting serious misconduct or criminal acts;
(D) The tenant holds over after the tenant gives notice of termination or intent to vacate; or
(E) The tenant holds over after the landlord gives notice of termination at the end of the rental term as agreed upon in the written lease.
(e) In addition to any other remedies provided for by law, if a landlord retaliates against a tenant pursuant to this Code section, such retaliation shall be a defense to a dispossessory action, and the tenant may recover from the landlord a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $500.00, court costs, reasonable attorney's fees where the conduct is willful, wanton, or malicious, and declaratory relief less any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord.
(f) It shall be a rebuttable defense under this Code section that the property has been inspected within the prior 12 months pursuant to any federal, state, or local program which certifies that the property complies with applicable building and housing codes or that the property has been inspected within the prior 12 months by a code enforcement officer or a licensed building inspector who certifies that the property complies with applicable building and housing codes.
Code 1981, § 44-7-24, enacted by Ga. L. 2019, p. 1026, § 1/HB 346.