Strengthening Tenants’ Rights in Georgia
Wednesday, August 31, 2022, 9:30 – 11:30
In-Person & Virtual Event
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
435 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
A decade of underbuilding residential real estate and increased demand on multiple fronts has driven supply to record lows and rental rates and home prices to record highs. Weak eviction protections, habitability concerns, and market activity have renters, housing advocates, community activists, and researchers calling for stronger tenant protections in Georgia.
Recent media reports have revealed that many rental apartments in our region are in staggering disarray. Stephanie Stokes of WABE has extensively reported on deplorable conditions for hundreds of Atlantans at the Forest Cove apartments. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s Alan Judd and Willoughby Mariano have produced a compelling series in which they examined more than 1,000 apartments in the region, finding some conditions “barely habitable.” Sean Keenan of Atlanta Civic Circle is reporting on the enforceability of legislation approved by the Atlanta City Council to strengthen tenant protections and efforts by Fulton County’s District Attorney to address negligent apartment owners. At our next Forum, we’ll talk with these journalists about their findings while examining tenant conditions around the region.
Georgia is well known for policies that favor landlords over renters. Advocates for increased tenants’ rights are most concerned about habitability issues, unabated rent increases, and eviction matters, including the lack of an opportunity to cure the eviction before trial and nonrenewal of leases without cause. Advocates point to the American Bar Association’s newly adopted “Ten Guidelines for Residential Eviction Laws” as an example of needed eviction protections.
While tenants have had concerns with these issues for decades, a relatively new issue has developed since the Great Recession of the mid-2000s – equity investor involvement in the single-family rental sector. Previous Housing Forum guest Desiree Fields of UC Berkeley shares in her recent report that Sunbelt cities with weak tenant protections are preferred locations for investors to grow their portfolios. Metro Atlanta is the leading target of investors for this activity. Her report recommends “nationwide, broad-based tenant protections to limit rent increases, ancillary fees, and fines and to promote security of tenure. The property rights of landlords should not take priority over the fundamental role of housing in supporting life, safety, and welfare.”
At the next Atlanta Regional Housing Forum, we will discuss Georgia’s tenants’ rights. What is the scope of the issue? What tenants’ rights currently exist in Georgia, and what protections are noticeably absent? Lastly, what efforts are needed to protect renters and ensure safe, affordable, and sustainable rental opportunities? We’ll seek answers to these questions and more as we speak with a panel of advocates and practitioners.
Join Housing Forum founder Bill Bolling and special guests on Wednesday, August 31, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30308. Free parking is available in the pay lot directly across the street from St. Luke’s.