Columbus residents react to new law that protects renters from landlord retaliation

Columbus residents react to new law that protects renters from landlord retaliation

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The state of Georgia is taking steps to offer more protection for tenants.

A new law punishes landlords who try to retaliate against tenants for reporting issues with building, housing coders or utility problems to government agencies by raising rents or denying services.

“We’ve needed it for a long time to help fight against slumlords,” said Columbus resident Sheryl Herring.

In Columbus, renters have the right to report if they feel like they’re living in unlivable conditions.

“It’s the right thing to do to take care of your tenants,” said Johnathan Simmons.

Under House Bill 346, landlords who wrongfully try to evict tenants or raise rent due to documented reports of a leaky roof or poor construction would be responsible for paying the tenant one month’s rent plus $500 along with legal costs.

Some people said it’s a good way to hold landlords accountable while others say it could cause problems if there are no real problems to report.

“Whether with the rats or water faucets, if you put it in writing then that makes sense. Then you will start seeing a pattern if someone doesn’t respond, but first-time complaints are kind of rock, because word of mouth is not much,” said Simmons.

If legal action is taken, the bill states a defense for landlords is if the property has been inspected and proven to comply with building and housing codes within a year-long time span of any federal, state, or local program.

Georgia joins 41 other states with similar laws against retaliatory evictions.

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