Ga. Supreme Court issues new rule for landlords seeking eviction

Gavel. (AJC file)
Gavel. (AJC file)

The Georgia Supreme Court has approved a new rule for landlords seeking to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent amid concerns over enforcement of renter protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rule, issued Thursday, requires landlords to submit verification that they are not subject to the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, otherwise known as the CARES Act, when filing new evictions.

The law bars properties that have federally-backed loans or receive many types of housing subsidies from pursuing eviction over nonpayment of rent. But without a central, publicly-accessible database of covered properties, it can be difficult for tenants to know whether their landlord is bound by the law.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media outlets, including ProPublicahave reported recently on properties that continue to file evictions in Georgia in apparent violation of the law, which went into effect March 27.

For complaints that have already been filed, landlords must submit the required documentation before or at the dispossessory hearing. Hearings in most jurisdictions are currently not being scheduled due to a statewide judicial emergency.

Cobb County Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy welcomed the new rule.

“Without the sworn affidavit, it would be almost impossible for a clerk to determine to refuse a filing concerning a covered property as required by the Act,” he wrote in an email. “Perjury is a felony in Georgia. If a landlord knowingly and willfully submits a false affidavit as to the material issue of whether the CARES Act applies to a particular property, the eviction case can be dismissed and the individual referred for prosecution.”

Read the rule here: