The “new” Gwinnett County property maintenance ordinance was voted on and passed. For landlords, that means that any time your rental property is vacant there are a few key things that must be addressed, otherwise, there are very expensive fines that can be assessed against you. For landlords, the most important thing that needs to be addressed when your tenant moves out is the utilities. According to the new PMO, “A vacant structure is a building or structure that is…1. Not legally occupied for a period of at least sixty (60) days, without evidence of water, electric and/or gas utility usage;…” It is very important to make sure that the utilities are switched back on in your name once your tenant moves out of the property, as well as, scheduling lawn maintenance. Having the utilities on and maintaining the lawn will also make marketing your property easier as most prospective tenants like to test plumbing, lighting and want to see that the property is being maintained. It is also a good idea to keep the HVAC running so the house stays at a reasonable temperature.
If the house is determined to be a vacant structure and the owner of the property does not have a valid permit, the fines can range from $250 to $1,000 A DAY for violation until the violation is corrected. In addition to the fines, it will also be unlawful for an owner to sell their property if it is in violation. The vacant permit fee is $100 with a $50 renewal fee.
This new property ordinance with Gwinnett and Dekalb County (DeKalb passed a similar ordinance) will most likely lead to other counties passing the same sort of laws. Gwinnett & DeKalb owners need to make sure they set up utilities and lawn service when a tenant vacates. If you live in GA you should contact contact your State Senator and Representative to support House Bill 110 which would standardize these vacant property ordinances across the state and eliminate the $1000 per day fines for violating them.
Blog post by John Durham, Marketing/Communications Director with Excalibur Home Management, LLC. Excalibur is an Atlanta Property Management company.