The communities surrounding Fort Stewart offer various types of housing for rent or sale. The Off Post Housing Services Office maintains a referral listing with detailed information on many of them. Types range from single family dwellings (houses) to multi-family units such as apartments, condos, townhouses, duplexes and mobile homes. The cost to rent or purchase will vary based on size and amenities included. Finding a place to live quickly will depend on your family composition and what you can afford to pay.
Finding a Place to Live
Check the rental unit thoroughly first to determine if it is adequate for your family composition and needs. When you submit an application to rent a unit, expect to pay a non-refundable screening fee. This will be used to check your past rental and credit history. Also, you may be asked to post a security deposit which is normally paid before you move into the unit. The amount varies from fifty dollars up to the equivalent of one month's rent.
Many landlords will not accept pets. Therefore, if you have a pet, you will have fewer rental selections. Landlords that do accept pets will often specify the number and size they will allow. Expect to pay a non-refundable pet deposit which is normally used to professionally sanitize the unit after you vacate. The average pet deposit per pet is $250.00 - $300.00.
There are some landlords who will make minor adjustments in designated units to meet the needs of disabled persons. A landlord may not refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your unit, at your expense, if necessary for a disabled person. However, where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restored the unit to its original condition when you move.
Read and understand your lease before signing!
Legal Questions? Fort Stewart Legal Services
A lease is a legal contract. When you sign a lease, you assume many legal obligations. What legal obligations you incur depends entirely on the provisions of your lease. It is important that you read and understand your lease. If you have any doubts about signing the lease, take it to Housing Services Office or the Legal Assistance Office for review. If you break your lease, it can cost you money. Before deciding to sign or break a lease, have it reviewed first!
Tenancy at Will
If your written lease does not specify a certain termination date, then the lease is a "tenancy at will". In Georgia, if your lease is a "tenancy at will" you have the right to terminate the lease upon giving a 30 days notice to the landlord. To protect your legal rights, you should put this notice in writing. The landlord must give you at least a 60 days notice to terminate a "tenancy at will".
Parol (Oral) Lease
If your lease is not reduced to writing, it is a parol (oral) lease. The landlord cannot enforce such a lease for greater than a one year term. If no time is specified in your parol lease with the landlord, it is treated as a "tenancy at will".
Tenancy for a Term
You can enter a lease for a period of days, months or years. If the agreed upon term of the lease expires and you remain on the premises, you then have a "tenancy at will".
Ensure that a military clause is inserted into your lease. The military clause is a provision in the lease that let military tenants end a lease prematurely for reasons connected with their military service. Georgia law requires that if a tenant on active duty with the military receives either permanent change of station (PCS) orders or temporary duty (TDY) orders for a period in excess of 3 months, the tenant is liable for no more than 30 days rent after written notice and proof of assignment are given to the landlord.
TIP: Do not allow a landlord to promise anything orally. Get all promises in writing as an addition to your lease.
TIP: If you are still in your lease when you are selected for on post housing, your name will remain at the top of the waiting list so you can complete your agreement and prevent loss of rent and deposit.
You will be required to pay a security deposit along with first month's rent for the unit you select. Georgia law requires that prior to giving the landlord a security deposit, the tenant must be presented with a comprehensive list of any existing damages or discrepancies to the premises. You as a tenant have the right to inspect the premises to determine the accuracy of the list. If you disagree, you may refuse to sign the list and provide your own list of discrepancies you notice.
Refunds of Security Deposits
A landlord must return your security deposit within 30 days after termination of the lease or surrender and acceptance of the premises, whichever occurs later. If the landlord is retaining all or part of the security deposit, a written statement specifying the exact reason why the security deposit is being retained must be provided to you.
Georgia law permits a landlord to retain the security deposit for nonpayment of rent, fees for late payment, abandonment of the premises, nonpayment of utility charges, repair work or cleaning contracted for by the tenant with third parties and actual damages caused by the tenant's breach of the lease or rental agreement. A landlord cannot retain a security deposit to cover normal wear and tear on the premises.
TIP: Before signing a lease or rental agreement, ensure that disposition of the security deposit is spelled out in plain language. If you do not understand the terms and conditions, take the lease to Housing Services Office or the Legal Assistance Office for review and interpretation before you sign.
TIP: Don't expect to get your security deposit back just because you think you left the place cleaner than it was when you moved in. Use the move-in/move-out inspection checklist to support your claim.
TIP: If you dispute the accuracy of the landlord's damage findings and the landlord still deducts from your security deposit, you may bring action to recover any portion that is wrongfully withheld. Contact Housing Services Office for assistance.
Inspections and Repair of Rental Properties
Take inventory of the furniture, fixtures and appliances. Ensure that you make careful inspection of the premises in the company of the landlord or the property manager, noting all discrepancies in writing regardless of how small. The inspection inventory should then be signed and dated by both parties. The current landlord or manager may not be the same one when you move. The new landlord or manager should be appraised of any damages or other problem areas.
TIP: Common discrepancies that fail to be noted are broken tiles, broken shingles, cracks in the wall or ceiling, faulty doors and door locks, leaky faucets and the heating and cooling system.
Most leases will require that you give the landlord a written 30 days notice of your intent to move prior to the end of your lease. Protect yourself and have your landlord sign your move-out notice to prove that he or she has been notified of your intentions and keep a copy for reference.
Make arrangements with the landlord or manager to conduct a move-out inspection of your rental unit. It is very important to finish moving and turn in the keys by the end of the rental period. If not, you may be liable for the next month's rent.
Tip: Make sure the electricity in unit stays on until out-inspection is completed. If you turn electricity off before the inspection is completed, landlord will charge you to have it cut back on.
The landlord is required by law to keep the premises in a good state of repair. Keep requests in writing for repair of items that do not function properly. Any failure by the landlord to make repairs after receiving written notice may entitle you to set off against the rent reasonable expense of making repairs. Consult with Housing Services Office or Legal Assistance Office first.
Tip: You must let your landlord know first that you need repairs. Allow a reasonable amount of time for repairs to be made. Remember that your landlord is not responsible for damages you, your family, guests or visitors cause to the premises.
Every prospective military tenant should ask about Renter's Insurance. If the landlord is to provide insurance coverage, inquire into the specific coverage of the policy. Remember, if the policy does not cover your household goods and personal belongings, you cannot collect damages from the landlord's insurance company in the event of a loss. You should consider, for your own protection, obtaining your own insurance coverage by purchasing a homeowner's policy designed for a renting tenant. This not only gives protection for certain damages you may cause to your landlord's property, but it will cover your household goods and other belongings.
Complaints of any nature concerning off-post housing, received from military personnel or from owners, landlords, agents and managers must be investigated for validity by the Housing Services Office.
Housing Services Office will then:
Standard of Conduct
- Obtain full and complete information from each party concerned and evaluate the circumstances impartially
- When possible, obtain complaint in writing from aggrieved parties
- Conduct a preliminary investigation
- Attempt to resolve the complaint
- When complaints are of a serious nature, Housing Services Office will notify the commander of the person involved. The commander may take appropriate action as dictated by circumstances to assist Housing Services Office in resolving the complaint.
Military personnel and their dependents occupying off-post housing must abide by local, state laws and ordinances, complete all contractual obligations and extend respect towards local citizens and their property. These reminders will help in maintaining good tenant and landlord relationships, and contribute to the continued acceptance and appreciation of military personnel and their dependents by local communities:
Buying A Home
- Pay your rent and other fees when due
- Conserve utilities
- Keep dwelling clean and in neat order
- Control your children and pets
- Wear proper attire while outdoors
- Avoid damage to private property
- Notify landlord promptly of needed repairs
- Learn and abide by house rules and policies
- Do not disturb neighbors unnecessarily
- Give required notice prior to termination of occupancy
- Leave the unit in a clean, undamaged condition
Determine Your Housing Needs and Price Range
What you need in a house depends on:
Visit the Area and See the Homes Available
- the size, the age, and activities of your family
- the amount you have available for a down payment
- the amount of mortgage you can qualify for -- what you can afford to pay
- what's available in the local real estate market
Select a Home and Make an Offer
- take house hunting trip as soon as possible -- use Space-A transportation and permissive TDY when available
- request an overall area tour first to get a feel for new area, different neighborhoods, styles of homes, etc...
- eliminate homes as you are looking
Your offer should include price, closing date, contingencies, inspection and closing costs and personal property conveyed with sale
- all conditions fulfilled, contingencies removed
- title to the property will be passed from the seller to you
- sign the deed of trust/mortgage; note; VA, FHA, lender forms, settlement sheets
- pay balance of down payment and closing cost with cashier/certified check
- costs vary depending on type of mortgage, but include: financing costs (discount points, mortgage insurance premium, VA funding fee); escrows; title search and insurance; transfer taxes and recording fees; appraisal and credit report; homeowner's insurance; real estate taxes; prepaid interest; survey; termite inspection; other customary or lender-required fee
- you can negotiate with seller to pay any of these costs