The Georgia Code Title 44 Chapter 7 Article II Section 44-7-35 requires a landlord to return a tenant’s security deposit in the following manner:
Remedies for Landlord’s Noncompliance
(a) A landlord shall not be entitled to retain any portion of a security deposit if the security deposit was not deposited in an escrow account in accordance with Code Section 44-7-31 or a surety bond was not posted in accordance with Code Section 44-7-32 and if the initial and final damage lists required by Code Section 44-7-33 are not made and provided to the tenant.
(b) The failure of a landlord to provide each of the written statements within the time periods specified in Code Sections 44-7-33 and 44-7-34 shall work a forfeiture of all his rights to withhold any portion of the security deposit or to bring an action against the tenant for damages to the premises.
(c) Any landlord who fails to return any part of a security deposit which is required to be returned to a tenant pursuant to this article shall be liable to the tenant in the amount of three times the sum improperly withheld plus reasonable attorney’s fees; provided, however, that the landlord shall be liable only for the sum erroneously withheld if the landlord shows by the preponderance of the evidence that the withholding was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error which occurred in spite of the existence of procedures reasonably designed to avoid such errors.
Code Sections 44-7-31, 44-7-32, 44-7-33, and 44-7-35 shall not apply to rental units which are owned by a natural person if such natural person, his or her spouse, and his or her minor children collectively own ten or fewer rental units; provided, however, that this exemption does not apply to units for which management, including rent collection, is performed by third persons, natural or otherwise, for a fee.
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