|Return Deadline||60 Days|
|Penalty for Late Return||2x Deposit|
For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Alabama, click here.
Security Deposit Deductions in Alabama
In Alabama, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:
- Unpaid rent
- Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
Most states, such as Alabama, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.
If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.
What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Alabama?
Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.
“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.
- Gently worn carpets
- Lightly scratched glass
- Faded paint and flooring
- Lightly dirtied grout
- Loose door handles
- Stained bath fixtures
“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.
- Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
- Broken tiles or windows
- Holes in the wall
- Missing fixtures
Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Alabama?
Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.
Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.
Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Alabama?
Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.
Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.
Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Alabama?
Landlords can make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning, but only if the tenant causes damage that requires cleaning (e.g. wine stains on the carpet).
Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Alabama?
Yes, in Alabama, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:
- Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
- Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
- Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way
Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.
Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Alabama?
Alabama law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent. Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.
Security Deposit Returns in Alabama
Landlords must return any remaining portion of a security deposit within 60 days after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit. If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, an itemized statement of deductions must be provided.
How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Alabama?
Alabama landlords have 60 days after the lease term ends and the tenant vacates the rental unit to return any remaining portion of the security deposit.
Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Alabama?
No, Alabama law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits.
How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Alabama?
If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, an itemized statement of deductions must be sent by first-class mail to the tenant’s forwarding address.
If the tenant fails to provide a forwarding address, the landlord must mail the notice to the last known address of the tenant or, if none, to the tenant at the address of the property. If the deposit is unclaimed after 90 days, the tenant forfeits their right to it.
Security Deposit Disputes in Alabama
If landlords do not return the security deposit or provide an itemized statement of deductions, if any, within the required time period, tenants can file for damages in court up to twice the amount of the deposit.
Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for unreasonable deductions.
How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Alabama?
If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $6,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in District Court.
A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within 6 years.
Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives. An attorney is not required but permitted.
Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.
- 1 AL Code § 35-9A-201
…security may be applied to the payment of accrued rent and the amount of damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance…Source Link
- 2 AL Code § 35-9A-201
This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from recovering other damages to which the landlord or tenant may be entitled.Source Link
- 3 AL Code § 35-9A-201
Upon termination of the tenancy, money held by the landlord as security…in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due 60 days after termination of the tenancy and delivery of possession.Source Link
- 4 AL Code § 35-9A-201
…the tenant shall provide to the landlord a valid forwarding address, in writing, to which the deposit or itemized accounting, or both, may be mailed.Source Link
- 5 AL Code § 35-9A-201
If the tenant fails to provide a valid forwarding address, the landlord shall mail, by first class mail…to the last known address of the tenant or, if none, to the tenant at the address of the property.Source Link
- 6 AL Code § 35-9A-201
Any deposit unclaimed by the tenant as well as any check outstanding shall be forfeited by the tenant after a period of 90 days.Source Link
- 7 AL Code § 35-9A-201
If the landlord fails to mail a timely refund or accounting within the 60-day period, the landlord shall pay the tenant double the amount of the tenant’s original deposit.Source Link
- 8 AL Code § 12-12-31
The district court shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, does not exceed six thousand dollars…Source Link
- 9 AL Code § 12-12-30
The original civil jurisdiction of the district court…shall include all civil actions in which the matter in controversy does not exceed twenty thousand dollars…Source Link
- 10 AL Code § 6-2-34
The following must be commenced within six years…Actions founded on promises in writing…Actions for the recovery of money…Source Link
- 11 AL Code § 6-3-2
All actions on contracts, except as may be otherwise provided, must be commenced in the county in which the defendant or one of the defendants resides…where real estate is the subject matter of the action…where the same or a material portion thereof is situated.Source Link
- 12 AL Code § 12-12-31
A party, including an individual, partnership, or corporation, may appear in cases on the small claims docket of district court with or without representation by an attorney.Source Link