In Alabama, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by AL Code § 35-9A-204. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
|Landlord Responsibilities||Hot/Cold Water, HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Stairs/Railings, Floors, Showers, Toilets, Trash Can, Smoke Detectors|
|Time Limit for Repairs||14 Days After Notice|
|Tenant Recourse Options||
Applicable Dwelling Types in Alabama
The implied warranty of habitability in Alabama does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Not addressed|
Other living arrangements that aren’t covered by Alabama’s residential landlord tenant laws are lodgings, occupancy of an employee of a landlord, occupancy for agricultural purposes, rental agreements renewed, extended, or entered before January 1, 2007. Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
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Landlord Responsibilities in Alabama
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 Issue||Landlord 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/cooking||Not 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 detectors||Yes|
|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.
Repairs, Recourse & Retaliation in Alabama
If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Alabama, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.
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.”
Renter’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Alabama
If the landlord doesn’t fix an issue within 14 days of proper written notice, the renter can end the rental agreement, or ask a court to order repairs or compensation. Ending the rental agreement after proper notice is the renter’s only option out of court. The renter isn’t allowed to repair and deduct, or withhold rent.
Landlord Retaliation in Alabama
In Alabama, it’s illegal for landlords to retaliate against renters with raised rent, reduced services, or (when rent is current) threatened eviction in response to:
- Complaining to the landlord or government about failure to maintain the property.
- Starting / joining something like a tenants’ union.
- Pursuing rights or remedies given by law or rental agreement.
- Alabama Association of Realtors, “A Note from the Legal Help Desk: A General Overview of Alabama’s Laws On Landlords and Tenants.”
- Baker Donelson, “The Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.”
- Nolo, “Alabama Tenant Rights to Demand Needed Repairs.”
- Alabama Landlord and Tenant Duties
- Alabama’s 2006 Landlord-Tenant Law