If you rent an apartment in Cummings, you should know about a new Georgia law that protects your rights. The measure prohibits landlords from retaliating against you if you have reported code violations or unsafe living conditions.

Forsyth County officials are split on the new law, with some saying that it goes too far and others who believe it will help ensure safer housing.

Three Forsyth legislators – state Rep. Sheri Gilligan and state Sens. Greg Dolezal and Steve Gooch – opposed the measure, while a pair – state Reps. Wes Cantrell and Marc Morris – supported the measure before Governor Brian Kemp signed it.

Dolezal said he thinks the new law puts too much burden on landlords. The law states that landlords can be made to pay civil penalties and fines in some situations.

“While we can agree that retaliation for repair requests is wrong,” Dolezal said, “This bill puts the property owner in the position of having to prove a lack of intent when taking certain actions.”

Morris, on the other hand, said that most landlords “are good, honest people,” but that protections are regardless needed for low-income workers who can be preyed upon.

Advocates for those with low incomes say too often those without financial resources are found living in buildings with code and sanitation violations that include holes in floors and walls, sewage back-ups, mold, leaks and more. If they complain, they are often threatened with eviction or rent increases.

The law that went into effect July 1 helps address those problems, they say.

Forsyth County residents who find themselves in a landlord-tenant dispute can discuss matters with an attorney knowledgeable in real estate law and experienced in resolving conflicts.