Extended-stay hotel evictions soar following Atlanta renter’s rights legislation

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Evictions at Atlanta area extended-stay hotels have skyrocketed in 2022, largely due to a new law aimed at protecting renter’s rights.

As of October 2022, the number of evictions so far this year is the same, if not more, than the previous five years combined according to data from Atlanta Legal Aid.

Rachel Lazarus, Gwinnett County managing attorney, said the massive increase reflects an improved policy toward low-income renters in the Atlanta area.

“Right now, the law of the land is that people living in extended-stay hotels might be tenants. And that ‘might be’ does a lot of work,” said Lazarus.

Lazarus said guests at extended-stay hotels previously faced unfair protocols, often kicked out of rooms without a fair eviction notice. However, in March 2022, a court of appeals ruled residents are entitled to due process and official eviction notices.

“When you compare it to the alternative, which is people getting kicked out with no due process and no notice, it’s actually a much better thing,” explained Lazarus.

Lazarus shared one example of a woman living at an Atlanta-area extended-stay hotel for seven years before the law took effect. The woman was one day late for payment and was subsequently locked out of her room with no access to her belongings.

Other guests have faced similar experiences, separated from clothing, medical equipment, and even pets.

“People hear hotel, they have a certain image in their mind. But that’s not what these places are. These places are modern-day tenement houses,” said Lazarus. “More and more of our client base at Legal Aid was staying at these extended-stay hotels.”

Rising rent prices across the metro played a key role in the increased number of Atlanta residents resorting to extended-stay hotels. These extended-stay hotels became home for weeks, months, and even years – despite a higher price tag than apartment rentals in the same area.

However, they’re often the only option for families who can’t put down a security deposit or first month’s rent, pay utility activation fees, or who may have a subpar renter’s history.

Municipalities across the Atlanta metro are adding affordable housing apartments and buying previously closed extended-stay hotels to convert into affordable housing units.

While these steps primarily impact lower-income families, communities across the metro will feel a ripple effect.

“Most families would rather get into a stable housing situation. The more we can find ways to help people do that, the safer and more secure everyone is going to be,” said Lazarus.