Alabama Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Alabama Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: January 20, 2023

Tenants in Alabama have the legal right to repairs for issues that place the property in violation of state health and safety standards. To exercise this right, they must properly notify the landlord in writing and allow 14 days for the repairs to be made.

Alabama Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

Alabama landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good condition:

  • Electricity (if provided).
  • Heating.
  • Kitchen appliances (if provided).
  • Plumbing.
  • Hot / Cold water.
  • Smoke / CO detectors.
  • Common areas.
  • Other amenities and appliances that were provided at move-in.
  • Anything impacting health, safety, or habitability.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord has to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in Alabama?

Alabama tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property which affects health and safety. If it’s not an emergency, tenants can usually wait until the landlord asks in writing for repairs.

On a case by case basis, the landlord and renter can agree in writing that the renter handle specific maintenance. This is only an option if the property is already up to code. For single-family homes only, this agreement can include garbage removal, water, and heating.

Requesting Repairs in Alabama

Alabama tenants must request repairs in writing. To reserve the relevant legal options, the tenant must also state actions they might take if the landlord does not make timely repairs, such as canceling the lease altogether.

An example of language a tenant might use to state these intentions is: “If the issue isn’t fixed, the renter may exercise his right to cancel the rental agreement fourteen or more days from today.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in Alabama?

Alabama landlords have 14 days to make repairs after getting a written repair request. However, a landlord may be liable in court for costs to the renter if he doesn’t immediately fix emergency situations that are his responsibility.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in Alabama?

Alabama landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that are his responsibility. It doesn’t matter if the tenant is behind on rent or breaking terms of the rental agreement.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in Alabama?

Alabama landlords don’t have to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, if they conduct repairs in a way that prevents the renter from accessing or using the property as expected, the renter might be able to cancel the rental agreement and sue the landlord for extra compensation.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Alabama

Alabama tenants, depending on the situation, have a right to cancel the rental agreement 14 days after the landlord receives a properly written repair request, if the landlord hasn’t fixed the issue.

If the failure to repair is deliberate and affects essential services, the tenant has a right to sue the landlord for related expenses, or for an amount equal to three months’ rent (whichever is greater). The tenant can also recover court costs and attorney fees.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in Alabama?

Alabama tenants are not allowed to unilaterally withhold rent.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in Alabama?

Alabama tenants are not allowed to arrange for repairs and deduct from the rent.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in Alabama?

Alabama tenants can break leases 14 days after written notice, for:

  • Failure to repair issues that weren’t the tenant’s responsibility.
  • Issues impacting health and safety.
  • Significant damage from fire or a similar disaster.
  • Other breaches of the rental agreement.

Tenants can break their lease immediately, if:

  • The landlord unlawfully denies access.
  • The landlord deliberately causes issues with heat, utilities, or other essential services.

Can the Tenant Sue in Alabama?

Alabama tenants can sue to force repairs or recover monetary damages, when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in Alabama?

Alabama tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety on a property. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department.

If an inspecting officer finds a violation and the landlord doesn’t repair it, the tenant could cancel the rental agreement, or sue to force repairs.

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Landlord Retaliation in Alabama

In Alabama, it’s illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a renter who takes a protected action. Renters get protection when they:

  • Report health and safety violations.
  • Complain to the landlord about maintenance.
  • Pursue any of their rights under the law or rental agreement.

Landlords aren’t allowed to retaliate by raising rent or reducing services. They’re also not allowed to threaten eviction in response, unless the tenant is already in default on the rent.

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