A Commercial Renter’s Rights in Georgia (Credit: Kristy Borowik, bizfluent)

Residential tenants have more rights than commercial renters in Georgia. Unfortunately the landlord has more rights when it comes to commercial property lease agreements. The key to understanding any tenant’s rights is in the lease agreement, which Georgia recognizes as a legally binding contract. Unless something in the lease is illegal, any tenant’s rights are limited by the language in the lease agreement, so it is crucial for all tenants to understand their lease agreements before signing.

Shared From https://bizfluent.com/info-8412291-commercial-renters-rights-georgia.html

Before Signing the Lease

The potential commercial tenant has the right to request a subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreement, which requires a lender to honor a tenant’s lease in the event of foreclosure on the leased property. If the landlord’s lender does not want to sign an SNDA agreement, the tenant might want to find another property to lease.

All potential tenants should inspect the property before leasing and have a lawyer look over the lease agreement before signing.

Privacy Rights

Residential tenants have the right to privacy in the rental property. The landlord must give ample notice before entering the property and enter only at a reasonable time and for a legitimate reason. The same is not true with commercial property. Landlords may enter a commercial property whenever they want, as long as they do not interfere with the commercial tenant’s business.

Insurance

Georgia requires the landlord of a commercial property to insure the property against fire and other basic risks. The commercial tenant has the right to request proof of insurance before paying rent. However, the tenant is responsible for liability insurance.

Unpaid Rent

The landlord may lock out a commercial tenant for not paying rent. This is different with residential tenants, as the landlord may need a court order before locking them out. Commercial tenants do not have the right to the leased property as they would residential property. Further, a landlord may sell the commercial tenant’s property to cover back rent.

Disputes

Georgia does not have a governmental agency that settles dispute between landlords and tenants or that has the power to force either party to behave in a particular manner. If commercial tenants cannot resolve a dispute with a landlord on their own, they must use the courts, either directly or through a lawyer, to enforce their legal rights.

If you have questions regarding commercial landlord/tenant law, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have assisted numerous companies and individuals in the legal field.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you.

Intestacy in Georgia – Dying without a Last Will and Testament

Preparing for the end of one’s life is something we all know that we should do, however according to AARP, the majority of Americans stop there.  According to the study, which relies on a survey from caring.com, only 4 in 10 American adults have made good on the task and have any type of estate planning document.  As is the case in most states, Georgia residents who die without a will, or intestate, rely on the states distribution scheme to disperse their assets to surviving loved ones.

Many individuals may think that because such a plan exists with the state that they are off the hook, or that their affairs are adequately taken care of.  What may be surprising to residents in Georgia is that the laws governing intestate succession may not be what most of us would logically think would happen.  What’s more, these guidelines don’t necessarily fulfill what the majority of citizens would prefer, especially when it comes to their surviving spouses.

Lawyer Atlanta GA

Before you concern yourself with who will get what if you die without recording a will, you need to know which assets will be affected.  These assets are referred to as probate property, and few know that it doesn’t apply to the entirety of their net worth.  Real property and bank accounts held solely in the name of the deceased individual are considered probate property, but there are many other accounts that are not.

These include things such as life insurance proceeds, funds in IRA’s, 401k’s, co-owned property, and joint bank accounts.  The inheritances of these assets are controlled by beneficiary designations within the account or payable on death clauses among joint owned accounts.  This is important to note because while significant portions of wealth for the average individual is tied to retirement accounts controlled outside of probate, the home is often times just as significant an asset in terms of an individual’s net worth, and it must go through probate in the absence of a trust.

Armed with a working knowledge of which assets the state will ultimately disperse to your loved ones, you can think about how they will divide these assets up.  Because all families will vary to the extent of living relatives such as spouses, children, parents, and siblings, there exists a table that determines the degree of relation called the Table of Consanguinity.

This table effectively rates the order in which your assets will be dispersed.  It goes all the way to third cousins if no heirs can be found, but the general order in which relatives will inherit is: spouse, children, parents, siblings, and then grandparents.  The first in line takes to the exclusion of all others, meaning that if there are living children, they inherit all assets before the parents get a penny.  In most states, all assets go directly to the spouse first.  In Georgia this is also true if the deceased has no children, but deviations occur from here.  Below lays out a few of the more common scenarios with how intestate assets are distributed in Georgia.

  • Survived by a spouse with no children – all assets are inherited by the surviving spouse.
  • Survived by children with no spouse – all children inherit equal shares, per stirpes, of the assets.
  • Survived by a spouse AND children – Spouse and children inherit equally as if the spouse was one of the deceased children. There exists a qualifier here that the surviving spouse will receive no less than one third of the estate.  This means that up to two children, the spouse and children receive the same share, but if three children exist, their share is reduced to the extent that the surviving spouse takes a one third share.
  • Not survived by a spouse OR children – If there exist no living spouse or children at the time of death, all decedents assets go to grandchildren in the shares that their parents would have inherited. If no grandchildren exist, then the decedent’s parents inherit the assets.  Should the parent’s also be deceased, then any siblings would take in equal shares.

While the Table of Consanguinity and the per stirpes scheme of distribution seem logical, the hang-up for many is the distribution given to a surviving spouse with children.  Many hope to give all assets to their surviving spouse in the hopes that those same assets go to the children after the spouse’s death.  This is to ensure that he/she was provided for during the rest of their lifetime.  If you are a resident of Georgia and this distribution scheme is something that you wish to avoid, you absolutely MUST execute a will or the state scheme will control the transfer of your assets.

If you have questions regarding a Last Will and Testament or what probate instrument is right for you, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have assisted numerous Georgians develop estate plans specific to their goals.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can help you and your family set your affairs in order today.

Does Your Georgia Small Business Qualify as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (BDE)?

Select small business owners located in Georgia take note.  There is a network of programs that exist within the state that offers Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certifications to those businesses who are majority owned by individuals considered to be socially or economically disadvantaged.  Certification with the state brings undeniable benefits by offering a distinct leg up to these businesses, who may be vying for state contracts with administrative organizations such as MARTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

The underlying goal of the programs are to offer greater exposure of certified minority companies to state and local officials as well as private sector suppliers in an effort to increase subcontracting opportunities for these companies.  Said certifications are granted to a diverse group of businesses, including but not limited to traditionally disadvantaged classes such as women, minorities, veterans and service disabled veterans.

The authority for these programs is vested under state law O.C.G.A. § 48-7-38 which states, “When computing the taxable net income of a Georgia base corporation, partnership, or individual, there shall be subtracted from federal taxable income of federal adjusted gross income 10 percent of the amount of qualified payments to certified minority subcontractors.”  This essentially amounts to the state rewarding organizations that do business with certified DBE’s through tax incentives on the amount of services paid.  This 10 percent is material to organizations awarding large scale contracts.

To qualify, the potential applicant simply need be a for-profit organization that is at least 51% owned and operated by a socially or economically disadvantaged class and based in Georgia.  From here the application process is based on the location in Georgia in which the business in located.  The Georgia Unified Certification program (GUCP) is available to all members within the state except for Fulton, Dekalb, or Clayton counties.  These counties are certified separately through the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).  The Unified Application can be found here.

In addition to the statewide program, the city of Atlanta, through the Office of Contract Compliance offers two more programs for the same class of individuals.  These programs are the Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) and Small Business Opportunity (SBO).  While the qualifications of these programs are slightly different than GUCP, the underlying goal is the same, to certify qualifying entities and offer them increased access to work within the city of Atlanta.  The applications for these programs are available here.

Finally, another program available to a more selective class of individuals on the basis of ethnicity is available as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).  This program is only available to existing and certified DBE organizations, and operates as a separate certification.  This program supports to these businesses through offering education, networking, and additional resources for all certified members.  The only additional requirement over DBE certification is that the owner of such business be a minority.  This application is located here.

If you have questions regarding these programs or whether you qualify, we are more than happy to answer them.  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are well versed in the qualifications and necessary paperwork involved with becoming a DBE in Georgia.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you with the application process and get you on your way to being a registered Disadvantaged Business Enterprise today!

Georgia Year’s Support: An Essential Component to Comprehensive Estate Planning

By Kent C. Bailey, Esq., Thrift & McLemore, LLC, September 2, 2018

The death of a loved one is a time of extreme mourning and anguish for surviving family members.  In addition to the grieving process many may worry how they will move forward financially, especially if the deceased was the breadwinner of the family.  While many families are familiar with the need for a will to add financial security in these times, an almost forgotten provision in Georgia Probate Code is often neglected as a tool to care for these loved ones: Year’s Support.

What is Year’s Support? 

Georgia Code Title 53, Chapter 3 – Year’s Support is, despite its name a permanent award to a surviving spouse, minor children, or both.  It is a right to inherit property for these individuals, regardless of what may have been communicated via will, the absence of a will, or the relative position of the majority of creditors.  The beneficiary is generally entitled to receive an amount equaling satisfactory support and maintenance for a period of 12 months for a standard of living that the individual is accustomed to.  This right is not absolute; for if a spouse remarries or dies before filing, or if a minor child reaches the age of majority before filing, this right is lost.  To successfully secure a year’s support claim, a petitioner must file in the probate court in the county of the deceased within two years.  This claim can be challenged by other beneficiaries of the will, and the award will ultimately depend on the court’s discretion.

In Laymen’s Terms

Year’s Support is in actuality an antiquated law that has been on the books in Georgia for decades, dating back to a time when males were the primary provider and females were the primary caregivers within households.  While it holds a dated application in modern society, it is nonetheless an active law that can be very effective for families depending on the situation.  In a nutshell, it is a way to ensure that families of deceased individuals are not left out in the cold due to the decedent’s neglect in creating an effective estate plan, or due to changes in the decedent’s financial situation since the creation of an estate plan.  A properly petitioned Year’s Support claim places spouses and minor children squarely in the front of the line when it comes to divvying up deceased individuals assets, ensuring the family is fed before most creditors or distant money hungry relatives.

Applying Year’s Support Strategically

By terms of a properly executed will in Georgia, an individual would most often have a surviving spouse elect between the right of seeking an award of Year’s Support, or taking the property under the will as it exists.  For decedents facing significant debt at the end of life or blended families, this offers significant flexibility with regards to the estate.

Year’s Support is especially beneficial for families of deceased individuals with high levels of debt relative to assets.  Be it end of life care or some other reason, often times creditors can take the lion-share of an estate leaving surviving family members to fend for themselves.  A Year’s Support election pushes these family members to the front of the line at the expense of said creditors.  This does not include mortgage debt, but does extinguish personal debt such as credit cards, student loans, etc.

Blended families are another area where Year’s Support enjoys high participation.  If a decedent does a poor job of leaving assets to minor children in the event of remarriage, or leaves the very home that a second spouse lives in to his minor children, Year’s Support offers recourse for the aggrieved parties.  While many blended families are able to get along cordially, Year’s Support can be the last bastion of support for others engaged in a nasty probate battle.

Once properly filed, courts generally condone the award of Year’s Support unless an objection is filed by a separate party with an interest in the estate.  If an objection is filed, it is necessary to retain an attorney, as proper accounting of the estate and procedural actions apply.  The likelihood of a successful challenge depends on a number of factors, and is an intensely fact specific inquiry.

Also worth mentioning is that an award of Year’s Support only applies to probate assets.  This means that retirement accounts such as 401k’s, IRA’s, and life insurance policies are exempt unless there is no designated beneficiary.  Similarly, accounts designated as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWRS) become sole property of the surviving individual upon death of the decedent, exempting themselves from reach of probate.

How Can We Help?

Before electing or petitioning for Year’s Support in Georgia, it is worth reviewing the complete fact set with a skilled attorney.  For a self- help guide on Year’s Support in Georgia, click here.  If you have any questions about Year’s Support, or any other aspect of Estate Planning in Georgia, the qualified attorney’s at Thrift & McLemore are here to help.  You can reach Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you in creating an estate plan that works for you today.

Please visit us on the web at www.thriftlegal.com.

Porsche’s Airport Hotel Is Pampering Dogs with Dinner and Drinks (Credit: Eater Atlanta)

Solis Two Porsche Drive hotel and Apron restaurant are going the extra mile with their menu offerings for dogs flying the friendly skies

Porsche’s posh Solis Two Porsche Drive hotel located at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport now offers “Sit, Stay, Solis” for guests traveling with their dogs. The Porsche Experience Center hotel provides an in-room dog bed, a dedicated dinner menu, and even a happy hour for dogs at Apron restaurant.

Upon check-in, guests traveling with their dogs will receive a dog bed, crate, and food and water bowls to keep their canines comfortable in their hotel rooms. Owners can then take their pups down to Apron’s dog-friendly patio for a special menu developed by executive chef Derrick Green with treats, ice cream, and “pupsicles.”

Once a month, Apron is hosting “Puptails on the Pawtio” where dogs are treated to grooming and training sessions while their owners listen to guest speakers and attend book signings. On-site adoptions days are also in the works. The next dog adoption day is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 with Lifeline Animal Project.

A $75 non-refundable pet fee is required upon check-in at the hotel. There is no weight limit for dogs staying at Solis Two Porsche Drive. Sorry, only two pets per room.

https://atlanta.eater.com/2018/7/23/17602122/two-solis-porsche-drive-dog-friendly-menu-atlanta

Dealing With The Commercial Foreclosure Process (Borrowers and Tenants)

If a commercial borrower (or commercial tenant) falls behind on commercial building payments (or lease payments), the lender or lessor can declare a default and foreclose on the property.  The execution of a mortgage or deed of trust (or lease agreement) creates a security interest in the property that gives the lender the right to start foreclosure proceedings to force a sale of the property (or eviction) upon the borrower’s failure to pay the loan/lease according to terms.  The good news is that lenders don’t like foreclosures because they’re costly and difficult. The bad news is that lenders won’t hesitate to foreclose on past due loans (or leases) if they aren’t given better options.

If you are a commercial property owner facing foreclosure, or a commercial tenant with a landlord in foreclosure, it is important to keep in mind that there are many legal intricacies involved with foreclosures.  It may be beneficial to employ the services of Thrift & McLemore to help you navigate the process and ensure that you fully understand your rights under the law.

Commercial foreclosures are, in most cases, very similar to residential foreclosures.  The foreclosure may be nonjudicial or judicial depending on the state where the property is located and what the loan documents dictate.  With both nonjudicial and judicial commercial foreclosures, the process starts when the borrower defaults on the mortgage.  A default occurs when the borrower falls behind in payments or fails to do something that the loan documents require.  After the default, the lender may accelerate, or call due, the outstanding balance on the loan.  Typically, the lender must first send a breach letter to the borrower that outlines the reason for default and gives a time frame during which the borrower may cure the default and avoid acceleration.  Usually, the amount of time given to cure a default is thirty days, but this can vary depending on the terms of the mortgage.  Once the time period expires, if the borrower has not cured the default, then the lender may commence foreclosure proceedings.

Tenants’ Rights Following a Commercial Foreclosure

The rights of any tenants in a foreclosed commercial property will depend on the terms of the lease and the date on which the lease was signed.  The tenant’s interest could potentially be terminated by a foreclosure due to the legal concept referred to as “first in time, first in right,” which allows the purchaser of a foreclosed property to void a lease if the mortgage was executed before the execution of the lease.

Many commercial leases contain a subordination, non-disturbance, and attornment agreement, or SNDA.  Under the terms of an SNDA, the tenant agrees to subordinate its interest in the lease to any lender making a loan secured by the commercial property; the tenant agrees to attorn to, or recognize, any new owner of the commercial property as its landlord; and any new owner of the commercial property agrees not to disturb the tenant’s possession of the property as long as the tenant pays rent and complies with the terms of the lease.  For tenants, an SNDA provides some assurance that their rights to their premises will be preserved even if the property is foreclosed.

-Options in Dealing with Foreclosures

The chances are that a commercial building loan is only a part of bigger financial problems.  Rather than delaying, a borrower should develop a game plan to deal with the situation immediately.  Options include:
  • Reorganizing, consolidating or even eliminating debts through proceedings that may include bankruptcy
  • Trying to work out a compromise with the lender
  • Selling the building

-Negotiating with the Lender

A lender may be willing to compromise.  Possible options include the following:
  • Different payment terms (lower payments over a longer period of time)
  • Forgiving some late payments now in exchange for a longer period of payment
  • Lower payments in exchange for a higher interest rate over a longer payment period
  • Refinancing at a lower interest rate (to make payments lower)

-Deeds In Lieu of Foreclosure

If a lender is unwilling to compromise, consider offering to convey the property back to the lender voluntarily by a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” (sometimes called “deed in lieu of forfeiture”).  A lender may be hesitant to accept a “deed in lieu” if state law provides a borrower with a right to redeem property for a certain period of time (e.g., up to a year later).

Ratings and Reviews

10.0Craig Thrift
Craig ThriftReviewsout of reviews