On occasion, we get questions from clients about denying entry to a person serving legal notice to a resident. This post will hopefully provide you with a little information, as well as some ideas to ponder and take back to your community.
Whether the community is a high rise or a gated suburban association, the State of Georgia requires that access be granted, per the following
Georgia Statute section 9-11-4(f) (4) Service upon persons residing in gated and secured communities.
(A) As used in this paragraph, the term "gated and secured communities" means multiple residential or commercial properties, such as houses, condominiums, offices, or apartments, where access to the multiple residential or commercial properties is restricted by a gate, security device, or security attendant that restricts public entrance onto the property; provided, however, that a single residence, farm, or commercial property with its own fence or gate shall not be included in this definition.
(B) Any person authorized to serve process shall be granted access to gated and secured communities for a reasonable period of time during reasonable hours for the purpose of performing lawful service of process upon:
(i) Identifying to the guard or managing agent the person, persons, entity, or entities to be served; (ii) Displaying a current driver's license or other government issued identification which contains a photograph; and (iii) Displaying evidence of current appointment as a process server pursuant to this Code section.
(C) Any person authorized to serve process shall promptly leave gated and secured communities upon perfecting service of process or upon a determination that process cannot be effected at that time.
In instances where the gated community is not being monitored, the process server may consult the Association’s annual listing with the Georgia Secretary of State to determine who to contact for entry. If you are the person being contacted, be mindful of the following:
- You are not required to permit entry to a limited common element, such as allowing use of a private elevator leading into a home.
- If the community policy is to normally announce the arrival of guests to homeowners, doing so in this instance may be considered an obstruction of justice.The Federal penalty for obstructing entry is $300 and up to a year imprisonment. In some states (not Georgia), this is instead classified as a misdemeanor even with private process servers.
- Obstructing a law enforcement officer attempting service in Georgia may lead up to a $1,000 fine plus a year imprisonment.