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The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

The Dilemma: Landlord-Tenant Issues In Macon-Bibb County

Shane Zachos
The Bibb County Courthouse is where hearings involving housing issues and evictions take place.

There have been over 21,000 eviction filings in Macon-Bibb county since 2020, according to the Legal Services Corporation.

June O’Neal is the Executive Director for the mentors project in Macon-Bibb County. The mentors project often provides its members with food, clothing, rent money, and utilities. She explained that many of the evictions in recent years have been by the hand of COVID-19. 

“During Covid there was a moratorium, people did not have to pay rent, that does not mean rent wasn’t owed, it just meant it had to be paid at a later date,” O’Neal said. 

O’Neal and her colleague Tracy Allen noted the increase in evictions since the pandemic but also understand the story from both landlord and tenant perspectives. 

“You got some landlords that are trying to do right because they do not want to see people out on the streets but it’s putting them in a bind because they still have to pay that mortgage,” Allen said. 

The mentors project has had close relations with many landlords across the county to help get families into homes but times have drastically changed. 

“Landlords run when they see us coming,” O’Neal said.

The Mentors Project of Bibb County’s Executive Director June O’Neal takes blankets to a family of 8 living in a south Macon motel room in late 2022. (Grant Blankenship/GPB)

O’Neal explained that many landlords do not want to deal with tenants who end up not paying rent. But in some cases, tenants are not provided safe housing.

“We feel bad for the landlords, we feel bad for the tenants, but we do not feel bad for the slumlords,” O’Neal said. 

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs Handbook, residential landlords have a duty to keep a unit safe, habitable, and in good repair. 

Another organization that deals with landlord-tenant conflicts is is the Macon-Bibb County Code Enforcement. 

“A lot of tenants, when I first got here two years ago, they didn’t really know who to call,”  Code Enforcement Officer Mel Turner says. 

Turner has been involved with law enforcement for over 17 years but joined the Macon-Bibb County Code Enforcement two years ago. He has noticed in recent years, Code Enforcement is beginning to get more outreach from the public regarding issues with their landlords. 

“We do have a couple of landlords that all of us (code enforcement officers) do know,” Turner said. 

Many of the problems tenants have are about needed repairs and faulty appliances. 

“They are kind of the same issues, their houses are run down and they are not doing anything to fix it,” Turner said.

To help citizens of Macon-Bibb County, Code Enforcement uses See Click Fix as a way for tenants to report alleged violations of safe housing.

This application allows Code Enforcement to see different complaints from sources all over the county. Turner gave credit to See Click Fix for being able to have a better community outreach based on how easily it can be used by the public. 

Turner believes that there are still many tenants with issues with their landlords but they are in a difficult position. Many times the tenant asks Code Enforcement to keep their identity a secret but it is not that simple. 

“They contact us and ask us to not tell the landlord which tenant it is, but if you’re in an apartment complex, they will know once we look into which exact apartment it is,” Turner said. 

Officer Turner said there have been specific times where the landlord has found out and it leads to a wrongful eviction of a tenant or a change of thought by the tenant that no longer wanted the pursuit of Code Enforcement. 

“I think that could be from pressure from the landlord but I can’t prove that,” Turner said.

As the housing market and interest rates continue to be high, Macon-Bibb County is still one of the most affordable living counties in the state. According to an article written by Houzeo, Macon ranks second on the cheapest places to live in the state of Georgia. 

To report an issue you may be having with your landlord, you can reach the Macon-Bibb Code Enforcement at 470-803-0470. For legal help and possible questions of action, you can contact Georgia Legal Services at 1-833-457-7529.

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