Alabama Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Alabama Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 18, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent

Costs of damage

Return Deadline 60 Days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x the 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 and Tear in Alabama?

“Normal wear and tear” is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way. Normal wear and tear includes:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Excessive Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • 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?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Alabama?

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 such as wine stains on the carpet.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Alabama?

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 paint wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • 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.

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.

Questions? To chat with an Alabama landlord tenant attorney, click here

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?

Alabama law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits.

How Do Landlords Give Notice?

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.

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 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.