ATLANTA -- The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed an amicus brief in the Georgia Court of Appeals in Efficiency Lodge Inc. v. Neason. The case involves a landlord that sought to self-help evict some of its tenants without following the eviction procedures set forth by law in the State of Georgia.
Efficiency Lodge is the permanent home of plaintiffs Armetrius Neason, Lynetrice Preston and Altonese Weaver in DeKalb County. All had stayed at Efficiency Lodge for months or years and considered it their permanent residence, paying rent as agreed upon with the landlord and signing rental agreements when they moved in that do not include check out dates.
In 2020 Efficiency Lodge moved to illegally self-help evict all three after they fell behind on their rent. Private security guards, some armed with and pointing assault-style weapons, removed multiple other families from the Efficiency Lodge rental units on the same day. The owners claimed that the plaintiffs were “guests” and not tenants, and claimed it had the right to kick them out without going through the legal dispossessory process required to evict tenants.
A trial judge has agreed that all three were tenants and prohibited Efficiency Lodge from kicking them out. The case is now on appeal. The SPLC, along with Atlanta-based tenants’ rights organization Housing Justice League, the Atlanta Volunteers Lawyers Foundation, and two academics, has filed its amicus brief in support of the tenants.
The following is a statement from Emily Early, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC’s Economic Justice Project.
“Mr. Neason has lived at Efficiency for five years. He and the other plaintiffs are tenants, not guests staying a few days. There are many others—especially historically disenfranchised Black and Brown families— who stay in places like this for years. It is their home. They deserve all the rights of tenants. Calling something a ‘inn’ or ‘hotel’ doesn’t allow landlords to shirk their responsibilities. The trial court got it right in this case and we hope the appellate court upholds this ruling.”
The following is a statement from Alison Johnson, Executive Director of the Housing Justice League.
“In Georgia, there are working families living in the shadows of roach- and mold-infested extended stays. They are the Invisible Homeless and find themselves in these hotels because there isn't enough affordable housing or because landlords screen them out for past evictions or criminal history. They become stuck at extended-stay hotels, which take their pay and they cannot afford a way out. In this case the Georgia Court of Appeals has an opportunity to make it clear: people living in extended stay hotels have rights and are part of the larger renters class, with shared interests and problems like any other renters.”
A copy of the amicus brief can be read here.
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