2022 Legislative Update - Week 1

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2022 Legislative Updates ,

Landlord Tenant Legislation

Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants (HB 138)                            
Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta

Pending in the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Cmte
As originally introduced in 2021, HB 138 required landlords to provide crime reports to existing and prospective tenants every six months.  The Association and others voiced concerns regarding the availability of specific crime data and the potential for violations of the state’s fair housing laws.  In response, the legislation was amended to place the onus of compiling crime information on law enforcement.  The author is expected to press for passage again this year.
 
Right to Cure (HB 408)                                                                      
Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta

Pending in the House Judiciary Cmte
HB 408 makes changes to the procedures required to initiate a dispossession, including a demand by the owner and a tenant’s opportunity to cure.

Other critical carry-over bills are listed below.  These will not be shown on future reports unless there is an indication they will be acted upon.

  • Tenants’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities (HB 524)
  • Additional Requirements for Termination of Tenancies (HB 301)
  • Disregard COVID Evictions (SB 206)
  • Prohibit Requiring Proof of Landlord Consent for Home Businesses (HB 467)
  • Warranty of Title (HB 344)

Other Property Management Legislation

Constitutional Carry (SB 319)                                                           
Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas

Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Jan-10
SB 319 implements “constitutional carry” whereby gun owners are allowed to lawfully carry firearms without a permit.  As is the case with existing law, the legislation preserves the right of private property owners in legal control of property through a lease, rental agreement, licensing agreement, contract, or any other agreement to exclude or eject a person in possession of a weapon or firearm.
 
Evictions During the Pandemic (HB 894)                                 
Rep. William Boddie, D-East Point

Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-13
HB 894 prohibits a prospective tenant from being refused a rental or lease agreement solely based upon a previous eviction during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
 
Childhood Lead Exposure.  The House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure has made several recommendations to housing.  Legislation must be introduced to incorporate these recommendations.

  • Expanding the definition of dwelling to include the exterior of a structure (OCGA 31-41-12(4)).
  • Requiring a post-abatement clearance inspection and eliminating the “visual inspection” option (OCGA 31-14-14(h)).
  • Updating the definition of “maintenance standard” and eliminating that as an alternative to abatement plan requirements (OCGA 41-31-12(8) and OCGA 31-41-14(h)).
  • Revising immunity provided to owners to conform to reasonable standards of negligence law (OCGA 31-41-15).

Property Taxation & Valuation Legislation

Residential Homesteaded Property (HB 887 / HR 571)          
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah

Assigned to the House Ways & Means Cmte on Jan-13
HR 571 asks voters to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow for a cap on property taxes used for education for homesteaded property owned by senior citizens.  Specifically, it would allow voters, via local referendum, to limit assessments to 20 percent of fair market value regarding local school district taxes for educational purposes.  HB 887 is the enabling legislation that must accompany the Constitutional Amendment.

Land Use & Development Legislation

Annexation Reform.  The House convened a Study Committee on Annexation that met throughout the summer to entertain ideas on how to reform the current annexation process.  The committee’s recommendations include granting school systems and other jurisdictions impacted by an annexation with standing in the dispute process and granting an arbitration panel the authority to attach zoning, density, and land use conditions to the property for at least three years.
 
Municipal Incorporations.  The following incorporation bills are currently active:

  • HB 826 - City of Lost Mountain, Cobb County
  • HB 839 - City of Mableton, Cobb County
  • HB 840 - City of Vinings, Cobb County
  • HB 841 - City of East Cobb, Cobb County
  • HB 854 - City of Buckhead, Fulton County
  • SB 324 - City of Buckhead, Fulton County

Legal Reform Legislation

Apportionment of Damages (SB 329)                                                 
Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia

Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Jan-12
There is significant interest from the multifamily industry and others to address the increasing exposure to large verdicts and the related impact on insurance costs and availability, particularly related to premises liability and phantom damages.
 
However, a decision rendered in August 2021 by the Georgia Supreme Court[1] has created a new challenge by effectively striking the apportionment of damages provision.  The Hatcher decision must be addressed as a priority among those interested in legal reforms.
 
SB 329 is intended to return Georgia’s law to its pre-Hatcher state by clarifying the statutory language in a manner that satisfies the high court.  Other measures may also be introduced attempting a similar fix.

COVID-19 Business Safety Act.  This existing law provides certain immunities from liability claims regarding COVID-19 through July 14, 2022.  No entity or individual shall be liable for damages in an action involving a COVID-19 liability claim unless the claimant proves gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.  A rebuttable presumption of assumption of the risk by a claimant exists if signage containing certain language is posted at a point of entry on the premises.  There will be an effort to extend these protections beyond the July 14, 2022 expiration date.