- Magistrate Court
A dispossessory is an action to evict a person from the apartment, house, condominium, or room he or she rents.
There are three grounds upon which a dispossessory proceeding may be filed:
- The tenant fails to pay rent that is due.
- The tenant is holding over beyond the term of the lease.
- The tenant is at sufferance following a foreclosure sale.
If any of these grounds exist, the Landlord must make a demand for possession of premises before filing a dispossessory affidavit. It is recommended that the demand be made in writing to eliminate any questions about the timing or wording of the demand.
Filing a Dispossessory Affidavit
To file a dispossessory affidavit, the Plaintiff/Landlord can physically file, or mail in their paperwork to:
Liberty County Clerk of Courts Office
201 South Main Street
Hinesville, GA 31313
A Plaintiff/Landlord also has the option to file electronically through the Liberty County Clerk of Courts website for an additional $15 convenience fee.
There is a filing fee involved, and the amount depends on the number of tenants to be served. Once the dispossessory affidavit has been filed and paid for, the Liberty County Sheriff's Department will perform service of the dispossessory affidavit on the property. There are three types of service:
- Tack and mail: The deputy will simply tack one copy to the door and send the other through the mail.
- Personal: The named Defendant is served in person by the Deputy.
- Notorious: If the Deputy is attempting personal service and someone of suitable age (this does not have to be someone 21 years of age or older) other than the named Defendant accepts service of affidavit, notorious service has been achieved.
Once service has been perfected, the dispossessory affidavit is returned to the Clerk's Office where it is entered in the computer system. A copy with the case number and service information is returned to the Plaintiff/Landlord.
Once the dispossessory affidavit has been served, the defendant has seven days to file an answer. An answer is the Defendant's opportunity to challenge the claims made by the Plaintiff/Landlord, offer reasons for late or non-payment of rent, or any other legal defense. The answer can be filed at the Clerk's Office in the Liberty County Justice Center, Suite 1200. If the answer is mailed, please understand that it must be received in the Clerk's office by the last day to answer, or it will be considered late. Under no circumstances can a clerk accept an answer by telephone.
If the Defendant is unable to file an answer in person it is possible to send someone to answer known as the respondent. The respondent will be permitted to answer the dispossessory affidavit, but the respondent will not be allowed to appear in court for the Defendant. When the answer is filed, a court date is assigned. The court date will always be at least one week from the date of answer.
The day after the answer is filed a clerk will enter the answer and court date and send a copy of the answer with the notice of trial to the Plaintiff/Landlord. If you wish to call to check if an answer has been filed, please wait until after 2:00 p.m. the day after the last day to answer.
Appearing in Court
- Trials of contested cases in the Magistrate Court are held in the Magistrate Courtroom in the Justice Center, located on the second floor. If you are scheduled to appear in court for a contested case, you must be in the courtroom at the time set by the clerk.
- Any Defendant who does not appear in court will be found in default and an immediate Writ of Possession as well as full money judgement can be awarded to the Plaintiff/Landlord. Any Plaintiff/Landlord who does not appear will have their case Dismissed for Want of Prosecution (DWOP).
- Please be advised that the Landlord and Tenant must bring all evidence (receipts, records, pictures, and witnesses, etc.) to court at the time of the hearing. Cases will not be continued to allow the parties to collect their evidence.
- All evidence must be available for the court at the time of the hearing.
- Cases that are not contested will be subject to a judgement on the pleadings.
A party has the right to appeal any adverse decision made in court. The appeal must be filed within seven days of the order and strictly follow procedures set out by statue; this includes the amount of the judgment as well as court costs to the higher court. In the event of an appeal, pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia, Section 44-7-56, in order for the defendant(s) to remain in possession of the premises, the defendant(s) shall pay into the registry of the court the sum found as past due rent.
Furthermore, the tenant shall pay future rent, in the amount of monthly rate per month beginning on the next due date and continuing on the same day of each month thereafter until the issue has been finally determined upon appeal. The failure to comply with this provision may cause an immediate writ of possession for the possession of the premises to be issued instanter by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Writ of Possession
If the Defendant failed to answer, a writ may be issued. The application/request for a Writ of Possession must be filed by the Plaintiff/Landlord; it is not automatically issued. There is not fee for a Writ of Possession to be issued. Once the application/request in filed, it will be processed by a clerk and sent to the Judge's office for review and issuance. Once the Writ of Possession is signed a copy will be mailed to the Plaintiff/Landlord and the Defendant.
Writ of Possession Execution
The Writ of Possession is not automatically executed by the Sheriff's department. A written application/request and a $25 fee are required from the Plaintiff/Landlord. It is the Plaintiff/Landlord's responsibility to provide the labor for the eviction; the Deputy is there only to oversee and keep the Peace.
|Dispossessory - Additional Service||Add $25 for each additional defendant|
|Writ of Possession||No Cost|
|Writ of Possession (To Be Executed)||$25|
|Writ of Fieri Facias (Fi Fa)||$9|
Optional: Dispossessory may be electronically filed on the Liberty County Clerk of Courts website for an additional $15 convenience fee.
There are both state and local resources that are available to tenants who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability. One such program is the State of Georgia Rental Assistance Program which is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. This Program provides relief to individuals, families and landlords whose finances have been negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants can receive up to 18 months of payment relief for past due rent and utilities, as well as the potential to obtain recertification for future payments within that 18 month period. Apply at georgiarentalassistance.ga.gov or call 833-827-7368.
For more information regarding the Georgia Rental Assistance Program, please click HERE to view a video provided by the Ga Judicial Council Access to Justice Committee, the Council of Magistrate Court Judges and the Georgia Department of Community Health.
Please refer to the Guidelines for Clerks (PDF) for understanding of what a clerk may or may not do to assist a party.
The information and forms available on this website are not intended as legal advice and should not be considered as such; they are provided for reference only. Consult an attorney for legal advice.