Alabama Habitability Laws

The Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, passed in 2006, governs all landlord/tenant issues in the state. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits.

Quick Facts for Alabama

Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?

The Warranty of Habitability in Alabama applies to short-term and long-term rental properties that are single-family or multi-family dwellings.Prior to 2006, Alabama was only one of two states that didn’t have any laws governing landlord/tenant relations.

How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?

7 days after receiving written notice.

What Are Tenants Responsible For?

Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so. Tenants are allowed to deduct the costs of any repairs they make from their monthly rent. Tenants can terminate a lease early if conditions of habitability aren’t met, but renters cannot withhold rent until repairs are made.

What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?

Working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services). Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenants.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?

After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 2 weeks. They must also provide 2 days’ notice before entering the unit to make these repairs.

The chart below shows which types of rental units the Act applies to.

Understanding the Law

In Alabama, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas of rented or leased multifamily properties are clean and safe. 

For all residential properties (single or multifamily), landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.

They’re also required to make and pay for any necessary repairs that are not caused by the tenant, unless the rental agreement specifically states otherwise. 

Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit or be paid back monthly as “additional rent.”

Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that limit the amount a landlord would pay for repairs/upkeep to make the property habitable, or contain any provisions waiving the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

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

Landlords may provide kitchen appliances and/or washers/dryers, but they are not required to under the law.  If any non-landlord owned appliance fails, it’s the renter’s responsibility to repair/replace it.

Addressing Habitability Issues

For any repairs the landlord is required to make due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can:

  • Reclaim any funds the landlord used to pay for repairs by charging the costs as extra “rent” until the amount is paid in full.
  • Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
  • End the lease early because of the tenant’s failure to properly maintain the property.

Under the law, tenants are allowed to have seven days to correct any issues noted as the reason for terminating the lease, including repairing any damage they have caused.

The landlord is responsible, however, for paying for any repairs required to keep the rental property in habitable condition.

If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.

The landlord will then have two weeks to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice from the tenant, and the landlord cannot retaliate against a tenant who has requested that repairs be made.

Landlord Access

Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs.  However, the landlord must give tenants at least two days’ notice unless:

  • Both parties agree to a shorter period.
  • It’s an emergency.
  • There’s a court order granting the landlord access. 

If the landlord fails to make the requested repairs within two weeks, a tenant has the right to terminate the lease immediately without owing any further rent.

In addition, if the landlord chooses to retaliate against a tenant for requesting required repairs, under the law, tenants are allowed to get three months’ rent in damages or the actual amount of damages and attorney fees, whichever is greater.

Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to give them an itemized list of everything paid for from the deposit within 35 days of the lease’s termination, or the landlord will be required to pay their tenant double the amount of the security deposit.

Sources

  1. Alabama Association of Realtors, “A Note from the Legal Help Desk:  A General Overview of Alabama’s Laws On Landlords and Tenants.”
  2. Baker Donelson, “The Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.”
  3. Nolo, “Alabama Tenant Rights to Demand Needed Repairs.”