For those Georgia tenants who are behind in rent payments, who hold over beyond their lease terms, or who have ongoing problems with their landlords, pay attention to dispossessory notices from the courts. These notices are not letters that can be ignored.
Although each county has its own forms, some common factors are as follows:
(1) The name of the court near the top (usually Magistrate Court);
(2) The description of the document as "Procceding Against Tenant Holding Over" or "Dispossessory" or something similar;
(3) The Case No. imprinted on it;
(4) A notary stamp or notary signature;
(5) A section entitled "SUMMONS";
(6) Affiant's signature and phone number; and
(7) Instructions on the deadline to file an answer and the place to file the answer.
If a tenant receives this legal summons and notice by tack and mail on his door and fails to file an answer by the deadline, the landlord can move forward, obtain a writ of possession, and formally evict the tenant without further notice.
Talking with the landlord is not enough once your receive the dispossessory notice or the proceeding against tenant holding over. You must file in court an answer and a counterclaim, if applicable. Moreover, settling does not relieve you from filing a timely answer. For your protection, file the answer within the deadline noting the settlement.