Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Alabama and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Alabama
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, violation of rental agreement & illegal behaviors
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 7-Day Notice to Pay Rent
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 10- & 30-Day Notice to Vacate (for weekly & monthly renter, respectively)
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 14-Day Notice to Remedy; 7-day Unconditional Quit Notice for illegal drug use/possession or assault
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 7 days (via termination notice)
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: Within 7 days from ruling
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Alabama?
There is no way for a landlord in Alabama to immediately evict a tenant legally. The eviction process is indeed a process with several distinct steps. Each step in the process has a period of waiting. This is done to ensure that tenants do not find themselves without a place to live. As eviction in the state of Alabama is a legal process, there is no specific timeline available regarding the length of the process. As with all legal proceedings, the eviction process may take a longer period of time if there is a prolonged legal battle.
Reasons for Eviction in Alabama
Within the state of Alabama, a landlord may evict a tenant for one of the following reasons:
- failure to pay rent
- violation of the rental agreement or lease
- participating in certain illegal activities
It should be noted that not all illegal activities are a reasonable cause for eviction.
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
When a tenant has failed to pay rent, a landlord is required by the state of Alabama to file a seven-day notice to pay rent. If the tenant pays the rent and any accompanying late fees within the seven-day period, the landlord cannot proceed further with the eviction process unless there is a pattern of nonpayment of rent. If the tenant fails to make payment within the specified seven-day period, the rental agreement is terminated.
After the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord can proceed by filing a failure to vacate proceeding in the court.
This can only be done in the case of failure to pay rent and is considered a criminal offense.
In this instance, the landlord provides the tenant with 10 days’ written notice to vacate the property. If the tenant continues to remain on the property after the 10 days, he/she may be charged with a misdemeanor and charged $25 a day for each day beyond the 10th day.
The landlord’s other option when seeking to evict tenants is to file a Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer. Unlike Failure to Vacate, unlawful detainer of property is a civil process. This process takes longer and does not result in a criminal charge. When a landlord files a Complaint for Unlawful Detainer for failure to pay rent, the tenant is given 14 days to respond to the complaint. For any other reason, the tenant has seven days to respond to the summons and complaint. It the tenant fails to respond to the summons or object to the filing, the judge will generally rule in favor of the eviction proceeding.
Once a landlord has won an eviction lawsuit in the Alabama court, a law enforcement officer with a court order will proceed to the property to evict the tenant.
It is unlawful for a landlord to attempt to force a tenant from the property.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
So long as there is a lease and the tenant pays their rent and any outstanding late fees within the seven-day Notice to Pay Rent, the rental lease remains intact and the tenant may not be evicted.
A landlord may inform a tenant of the intention to discontinue renting the property when there is no lease even if rent has been paid on time. To do this the landlord must provide written notice of their intention to discontinue rental of the property. A week-to-week renter without a lease must be given 10-Days Notice. A month-to-month renter without a lease must be given a 30-Day Notice. If the tenant remains beyond this point, the landlord may seek eviction of the tenant regardless of whether or not rent has been paid.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
In the state of Alabama, even in the event of drug possession or assault of a fellow tenant, there is no legal way for a landlord to require a tenant to move without written notice. When seeking to remove a tenant due to violation of the rental agreement/lease, the landlord is required to provide a written 14-Day Notice to remedy the behavior creating the violation of the lease agreement. In cases of illegal behavior such as possession or use of illegal drugs or assault, the landlord is required to give the tenant a written Seven-Day Unconditional Quit Notice prior to filing for eviction within the courts. Once the time indicated in the notice has run its course, and the tenant remains at the property, the landlord may proceed with the previously mentioned Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
In the state of Alabama, a landlord may evict a tenant for:
- Growing, selling, using, making, importing, or storing illegal drugs in the rental unit or common areas of the rental property
- Using, making, selling, or holding firearms or ammunition on the rental property except in the case of self-defense or the defense of a third party
- Criminal assault of a tenant or guests on the rental property except in the case of self-defense or the defense of a third party
- Any offense similar to a previous illegal action occurring within the previous six months
In order to evict a tenant for these acts, a landlord is required to provide the involved tenant with a Seven-Day Termination Notice.
If the landlord agrees to allow the tenant to remedy the situation, the situation must be remedied within the specified seven days. A tenant may not cure a breach to the lease agreement more than twice within a twelve month period unless agreed to by the landlord.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
When a landlord is renting to a tenant without the benefit of a lease in the state of Alabama, the amount of notice a landlord must provide before filing for eviction depends upon the terms of rental. If a landlord is renting a space on a week-to-week basis, he/she is required to provide a written notice with a minimum of seven-days for the tenant to vacate the premises. When dealing with a month-to-month tenant, the state requires a 30-day written Notice to Vacate be provided to the tenant. If the tenant refuses to relocate, the landlord may file for eviction with the court and may expect reimbursement for up to three months’ rent or damages incurred by the landlord. The court may rule for the higher of these two amounts and attach the landlord’s attorney fees as well.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Alabama?
In the state of Alabama, tenants may not be evicted as a form of retaliation. Landlords may not evict a tenant because they reported safety or health violations, or joined a tenant organization. Likewise, tenants may not be evicted for violating rules or regulations that the landlord has added to a lease after the signing of the lease. The only time a tenant can be evicted for rules and regulations that were altered after the lease date is when the landlord has obtained written agreement to the newly instituted rules.
Once Eviction Occurs
In the state of Alabama, a tenant has seven days to challenge an eviction ruling once the court has found in favor of eviction. At the end of this seven-day period, the landlord will obtain a Writ of Possession. If the tenant remains on the property in question, a Sheriff will serve them with a copy of the Writ. The tenant is then given a short period of time to vacate the property or be physically removed from the property.
Any personal property left on the rental property at the time of eviction must be stored by the landlord for a minimum of 14 days. If the tenant fails to remove the stored property within 14 days, the landlord may dispose of the property with no further liability to the tenant.
Make sure to read the Ala. Code §§ 35-9A-421, 35-9A-423, and 35-9A-441 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.