Alabama Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords are required to keep the residence in habitable condition, complying with all building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety. (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords must make necessary repairs to keep premises in habitable condition, including maintaining electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and air-conditioning (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenant can’t withhold rent or repair and deduct, tenant can, however, report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. If a landlord is reported to a local city or county inspector for housing code violations, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate, such as increasing rent or threatening eviction (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in Alabama does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling TypeLandlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single familyYes
Multi-familyYes
Fraternities/Sororities/ClubsNo
RV parksNot addressed
Mobile home parksNot addressed
CondosNo
Hotels/MotelsNo

Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Alabama, as indicated below.

Note: some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability IssueLandlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.Not addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.Not addressed
Provide hot and cold running water.Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment.Yes
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cookingNot addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).Yes
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).Yes
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.Yes
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.Yes
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectorsYes
Provide a mailbox.No
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances.No
Provide working carbon monoxide detector.Not addressed
Provide a working washer/dryer.No

Additionally, for multifamily properties, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas are clean and safe.

Making Repairs

Under Alabama law, landlords are required to make all necessary repairs to keep the property in a habitable condition.

  • Sending Notice – If the landlord fails to maintain the dwelling in a habitable condition, the tenant may provide written notice of intent to terminate the rental agreement upon a date not less than 14 days after the landlord’s receipt of the notice. If the landlord makes the necessary repairs within that time, the rental agreement continues to be enforceable.
  • Landlord Access – Tenants must allow reasonable access to the landlord to enter the dwelling to inspect the condition of the dwelling or to make necessary repairs. Landlords must provide 2 days notice before entering the premises, except in case of an emergency.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If the landlord fails to make the desired repairs, the rental agreement terminates at the end of 14 days, and the landlord must return the security deposit and any prepaid rent.

  1. Withhold rent – Alabama landlord tenant law does not allow tenants to withhold rent in response to habitability issues. Tenants who withhold rent for essential repairs put themselves at risk of being in breach of the lease.
  2. Repair and deduct – Tenants do not have the right to deduct repair costs from the following month’s rent.
  3. Lawsuit – Tenants have the right to bring an action against a landlord for failing to keep the unit in a habitable condition.
  4. Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.

Landlord Retaliation

In Alabama, a landlord is prohibited from committing any retaliatory action towards the tenant because a tenant complains to either the landlord or a governmental agency about the violation of the habitability provisions of the law, such actions include:

  • increasing rent,
  • decreasing services, or
  • threatening eviction.

Should the landlord retaliate against the tenant, the tenant may seek legal action and recover an amount of up to three months’ rent or actual damages (whichever is greater) and reasonable attorney fees. The tenant could also be awarded possession of the rental unit or the tenant can elect to terminate the rental agreement if they have been illegally evicted.

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