Today’s case note is Colonial Self Storage of Southeast, Inc. v. Concord Properties, Inc., 147 Ga. App. 493 (1978). Concord Properties (“tenant”) failed to pay rent to Colonial Self Storage (“landlord”) for three storage compartments for ten months. After issuing repeated notices to the tenant, the landlord seized the property and sold it pursuant to the default provisions of the contract. The tenant brought an action against the landlord to recover for its alleged conversion (i.e., theft) of the tenant’s property. The landlord’s defense was that it was authorized to take the property under the terms of the rental contract.
A tenant at will holds the premises subject to the general terms and conditions specified in the lease, except as modified by mutual agreement. Concord became a tenant at will by virtue of the landlord’s continued acceptance of rent after the expiration of the term of the original lease. The landlord’s actions in seizing the property were therefore permitted by the lease.
Under Georgia law, a landlord can contract to avoid the statutory dispossessory process when renting commercial property. This is usually accomplished by including a provision in the lease to attain the specific goal. A residential landlord should be cautious when reclaiming property that appears to be abandoned, but a carefully drafted lease can usually protect a commercial landlord under similar circumstances.