Hiram, GA asked in Landlord - Tenant, Divorce and Family Law for Georgia

Q: Which takes presidence the ownership, or the rental agreement

Property is jointly owned, tenneants in common. Mortgage is an individual loan, husband only. Husband and wife are divorcing. Prior to being evicted (she sat his remaining property outside) a rental agreement was signed.

As joint owner, Is she within her rights to change the locks? Or because there is a rental agreement does she need his permission and have to give him keys.

1 Lawyer Answer
James Clifton
James Clifton
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Fayetteville, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: Each owner is entitled to equal use and possession of the property. There can be no rental to someone who is also an owner because their ownership interest is of a higher priority. If the divorce decree awarded the property to the wife, then the ex-husband could be a renter. Under that circumstance, the ex-husband would be afforded all rights of a tenant which prevents the ex-wife from changing the locks without a writ of possession following an eviction. If she changes the locks, she would be liable for wrongful eviction. If the occupancy of the house has not been addressed by the court in the divorce, both parties should be careful about violating the standing order that maintains the status quo until the court makes an adjudication about who should have ownership and possession of the property.

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