Good News from Fulton County

The Atlanta Apartment Association released some important information (Email govtaffairs@atl-apt.org for the full scoop) last week. In response to the Atlanta Apartment Association’s sustained advocacy over the past two years, which prompted political pressure from elected officials, Fulton County’s Chief Magistrate Judge enacted a Standing Order. This order stipulates that rent must be paid into the court if a hearing cannot be scheduled within two weeks from filing a dispossessory case. Failure to comply results in automatic issuance of a writ of possession after 14 days. The order took effect on February 29, 2024.

AAA collaborated closely with Legal Counsel, Mike Williams of Fowler, Hein, Cheatwood & Williams, to develop guidance on how the order can impact current and future dispossessory cases in Fulton County.

It’s important to note that the information provided here is general in nature and not intended as legal advice. Specific legal advice tailored to individual circumstances should be sought from an attorney.

How Will Current Cases Awaiting a Hearing in Fulton County be Affected?

This order applies to all open cases in Fulton County Magistrate Court where a resident has not paid rent and remains in possession. If you have an open case awaiting a hearing, it’s advised to reach out to your legal counsel and/or filing service to file motions to compel rent payment into court on all open dispossessory cases in Fulton County Magistrate Court. These motions must be served via mail to the resident and email to the magistrate court at magistrate.compel@fultoncountyga.gov.

Once the motion is served, the resident will have 14 days to pay the owed rent into the court registry. Failure to do so will result in the issuance of a writ of possession without further court order. To avoid this, the resident must pay all rent owed under the lease terms, including monthly rent coming due after the case was filed.

The issuance of a writ of possession only addresses the issue of possession of the unit. A hearing is still required to determine any monetary judgment. However, once the writ is issued, it can be fully executed by the Marshal even if a hearing has not been scheduled or is scheduled for a future date.

If rent is accepted after the filing or during the rental period, the case must be dismissed. If the resident has vacated the premises and returned the keys, there is no need to file a Motion to Compel as the next step is to wait for a trial date to obtain a judgment.

Does this Change the Process for New Dispossessory Case Filings in Fulton County?

Regarding new dispossessory case filings in Fulton County, if a scheduled court date is not received within 14 days of filing, legal counsel can file a motion to compel payment of rent into the court. Failure to pay within 14 days results in the issuance of a writ of possession.

What if I Have a Writ and am Waiting for the Fulton Marshal to Execute?

For cases where a writ has been issued and the Fulton Marshal’s office is awaiting execution, it’s important to note that the Marshal’s office is experiencing a backlog of cases with an average waiting period of 3 months. Nonetheless, the setout can and should occur even if the hearing has been scheduled for a later date or not scheduled at all.

AAA has successfully advocated for additional funding for the Fulton Marshal to hire more officers to reduce the backlog. Discussions are also ongoing at the local and state levels to allow off-duty officers from other jurisdictions to perform setouts in Fulton County or other counties experiencing case backlogs.