In Alabama, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, then the law (Alabama Code Title 35 Chapter 9A) is a landlord-tenant agreement that carries certain rights and responsibilities. Tenants have the right to habitable housing and the right to pursue some forms of alternative action.
Alabama landlords have the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to pursue formal eviction in the case of a lease violation.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
In addition to the below, please check local county and municipality laws for additional rules and protections for both landlords and tenants.
Landlord Responsibilities in Alabama
Landlords in Alabama are responsible for maintaining a habitable domicile and providing repairs in a timely manner when required. If they do not, tenants can make repairs and deduct the cost from future rent payments. However, tenants are not permitted to unilaterally withhold rent.
Landlords are also required to honor the tenant’s rights and not disturb them when they are peaceably and reasonably using the property.
Alabama differs from other states on numerous rights and responsibilities. Interpretation of the above rights and rules can vary.
These obligations only apply to single and multi-family dwellings. They do not apply to condo owners or mobile home landlords. Landlords have 2 weeks to address tenant’s concerns.
Note: Alabama landlords are typically obligated if they provide a service that is not mandated by law.
Tenant Responsibilities in Alabama
Tenants in Alabama are primarily responsible for:
- Keeping their residence free from hazards and damages.
- Keeping residence clean.
- Not disturbing other tenants. If landlords deem it necessary, tenants must clean or make repairs in 7 days. Tenants must also not partake in illegal behaviors on the property.
Alabama landlords can also give a 7-day notice to clean if tenants are violating terms of the lease.
Evictions in Alabama
Landlords in Alabama have broad powers to evict tenants. Alabama landlords can evict tenants for:
- Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant misses a rental payment, landlords must give a 7-day pay notice. Failure to pay within this 7-day window can be grounds for eviction.
- Violation of lease terms – If a tenant violates a lease, landlords must provide a 14-day notice requesting they remedy their behavior. Landlords can then file a 7-Day Additional Quit Notice before filing for eviction with a court.
- Illegal acts – Illegal acts can serve as justification for eviction following the issuance of a 7-day termination notice. Criminal acts warrant the same eviction process as a regular lease violation.
Alabama tenants cannot be evicted as retaliation for reporting health or safety violations on the landlord’s part. Tenants can also not be evicted for violating terms added to the lease without their written permission.
Security Deposits in Alabama
- Standard limit/maximum amount – 1 month (excludes pet deposit)
- Time limit – 60 days after the end of the lease
- Penalty for not returning – If a security deposit is not returned, landlords must pay double the original amount.
- Allowable deductions – Landlords can deduct for costs from missed rent payments and damages caused by negligence, abuse, or carelessness, not ordinary “wear and tear.”
Lease Termination in Alabama
Alabama landlords must provide the following amounts of notice, provided that there are no provisions for alternate notice in the lease agreement.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early termination: Alabama tenants are legally allowed to terminate their lease for the following circumstances:
- Active military duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Early termination clause in lease agreement
If an Alabama tenant legally breaks their lease, they must still pay all rent and fees for the remaining lease period. This obligation excludes when the landlord finds a new tenant (in a timely and reasonable manner).
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Alabama
- Rent control – Alabama does not have any rent control laws, so landlords can charge whatever they want for rent.
- Increases – Alabama landlords are legally allowed to raise rent without providing notice. Tenants and landlords can agree on specific rental increase notices in the terms of the lease. Landlords cannot raise rents in a discriminatory manner against a protected class.
- Additional fees – Landlords are generally allowed to charge late fees after the grace period for missing rent. The state does not cap late fees.
Housing Discrimination in Alabama
Protected groups. Alabama landlords cannot discriminate housing against any groups outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act. Alabama does not have additional protections for classes of people not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory acts. Acts that are considered discriminatory when directed as one or more prospective renters in a specially protected class include:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Providing differing terms, benefits, or privileges
- Alluding to limitations that amount to discrimination
- Lie about the status of a unit
There is currently no explicit penalties for discrimination spelled out in Alabama law. The Fair Housing Act sets forth guidelines on how to file a discrimination suit with the state.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Alabama
Landlord Right to Entry in Alabama
For non-emergency situations, landlords are generally only allowed to enter a rented unit after providing at least 2-days written notice. Landlords can enter the premises for emergency situations.
Small Claims Court in Alabama
Claims valued at up to $6,000 can be litigated in small claims court. Most written or oral contracts have a 6-year statute of limitations.
Mandatory Disclosures in Alabama
Landlords must disclose specific information to tenants:
- Lead-based paint – Houses built prior to 1878 must disclose concentrations of lead paint used.
- Authorized authorities – Landlords must also disclose the name and addresses of all authorized management parties
Changing the Locks in Alabama
Alabama law does not have provisions relating to when locks can and cannot be changed.
Local Landlord Tenant Laws in Alabama
Birmingham – Birmingham maintains a health and safety code that may go above and beyond standards set forth by the state. Tenants and landlords should review these health-related standards for the city.