What are tenants’ rights, and how do they impact housing affordability?
These questions and more were addressed during the August, 2022 Atlanta Regional Housing Forum, Strengthening Tenants’ Rights in Georgia.
The AJC published an investigative series over the summer, exposing absentee landlords and dismal management of apartment properties, resulting in dangerously unhealthy and unsafe living conditions in many of metro Atlanta’s apartment complexes.
During the housing forum Bill Bolling, co-founder and moderator, stated that Georgia has some of the weakest laws regarding tenants’ rights in the entire country. As a result, many corporations and private equity firms view Georgia as a favorable environment for buying and renting multi and single family homes and townhomes. The practice of corporations buying a large volume of single family homes and townhomes and then renting them, reduces the number of homes from the home buyer inventory and inflates not only home prices but also rents.
Many states have laws that provide renters with legal options for recourse when infractions by landlords occur. However, other states, like Georgia, give the landlord more legal authority …the website below illustrates the differences, state by state regarding legal protections for renters.
Desiree Fields, researcher with UC Berkeley, covers this practice in her recent report that details how 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. In her report Fields 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.”
Efforts have been made in Sandy Springs to ensure that our renters are not living in unhealthy and unsafe conditions. Recently, Sandy Springs Code Enforcement proposed creating a special Apartment Inspection Unit which would increase the number of apartments that can be inspected in an effort to hold landlords and property managers accountable.
There is still much work to be done, but we are taking positive steps towards protecting and strengthening tenants’ rights in Sandy Springs and across the state of Georgia. For more information from the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum on this issue, follow this link to watch the full discussion.