Grab our free sample or generate an official Alabama lease agreement for residential use. Read further about required disclosures in Alabama, optional addendums for things like pets, and what Alabama landlord tenant laws apply to residential lease agreements.
Lease Agreement Sample
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Residential lease agreements in Alabama should include the only universally required Alabama-specific disclosure: fields for listing the acting landlord’s name & address. For units built prior to 1978, landlords are also federally required to include a disclosure about lead-based paint as an attachment to the lease agreement.
Quick Facts for Alabama
Max Security Deposit
Cannot exceed 1 month’s rent
Who Needs to Sign
Landlord, all tenants, and at lease one third-party witness
Name and business address of the landlord or the landlord’s agent and lead-based paint hazards (for properties built before 1978)
Legal Early Termination
In Alabama, tenants can break their lease if they’re starting active military duty, experience landlord harassment, or have their tenant’s privacy rights violated. On the other hand, landlords may end a renter’s tenancy for not paying rent on time, violating the tenancy agreement, and failing to perform tenant duties.
Addendums to Consider
Pets, additional tenant obligations (e.g., landscaping and property maintenance), military service, rules for common areas
What’s in an Alabama Residential Lease Agreement?
To start, let’s make sure we’re on the same page:
A residential lease agreement is a legally binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant who intends to rent a specific property. It is an all-inclusive document created to outline the expectations of both parties and address any special circumstances that may arise during the length of the agreement. It also clearly states the potential consequences for not adhering to the stated terms. For maximum legal credibility, it is critical that this document be produced in writing, reviewed and signed by both parties prior to occupancy.
Let’s now go through what you need to include in a residential lease agreement template in Alabama. This includes:
- Basic/universal elements – these are applicable to ALL states, not just Alabama.
- Alabama-specific required disclosures – there is only 1, plus 1 conditional federal disclosure.
- Optional items/sections – anything from late rent fees to pet addendums.
Basic Elements of Residential Lease Agreements in Alabama
Here are the clauses that create the basic format of the Alabama residential lease. This is a nice checklist of the information and clauses that should be included in all residential leases for the contract to be comprehensive.
- Tenant(s), Landlord, Landlord’s Agent or Property Manager (if any): These are names of the parties to the agreement.
- Effective Date: This is the date that the lease agreement starts and the tenant is allowed to occupy the property.
- Applicable Law: Notice is given that the contract is governed by the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
- Location: Location of the rental unit includes the county, city, street address, and apartment number (if applicable).
- Legal Description: This is the how the property is described in the recorded title deed for the property where the rental unit is located.
- Rental Application: The tenant verifies that the information submitted in the rental application is true. The rental application is a separate document included in the lease contract by being attached to the lease agreement.
- Rent: This clause states the monthly rent, the day of the month that the rent is due, and where and to whom the rent payments are to be made.
- Prorated Rent: This is the daily amount of rent that is used for calculation of the rent required for a partial month. The calculation is made by taking the monthly rent times 12 and dividing by 365 days.
- Late Fee(s): This describes the amount of late fee(s) and when they are charged for past due rent.
- Occupants: This states the number and the names of authorized occupants.
- Bad Checks: These are the fees charged for rent payments made by a check that is dishonored by the bank.
- Renewal: These are the terms of renewal of the lease after the initial term expires.
- Sublease: This includes any restrictions on the ability of the tenant(s) to sublease the rental unit to other parties.
- Utilities: This clause has a description of utilities provided by the landlord and those that are the responsibility of the tenant(s).
- Tenant Obligations: These are the tenant’s legal obligations under the state law. These include not disturbing the peace or participating in criminal activities. Also, included in this clause are any maintenance requirements that are the responsibility of the tenant. For example, tenant obligations may include keeping drains clear, changing light bulbs, and other minor maintenance. The tenant is obligated to inform the landlord of the need for emergency repairs or major repairs.
- No Deductions from Rent: This provision informs the tenant that major repairs must be approved in writing by the landlord prior to being made and that repair costs cannot be deducted from rent payments.
- Landlord Obligations: This clause includes the landlord’s obligations under state law to provide essential services, deal with emergencies, and make repairs to keep the required systems in a good and safe working condition. It also states the general maintenance requirements that are the landlord’s responsibility.
- Appliances and Furniture Inventory: This is a list of the appliances, furniture and other items provided by the landlord for the rental unit.
- Insurance: This clause describes the requirements for the landlord to have property insurance and the tenant’s responsibility for having insurance to cover their personal property.
- Access: This states the ability for the landlord to have access to the property by giving at least 48 hours prior notice in writing. It also prohibits the landlord from entering the rental unit without giving notice or having permission from the tenant except in the case of an emergency.
- Damaged Premise: This provision covers what happens if the premise is damaged through no fault of the tenant or if the rental unit is condemned because it is unusable after a disaster.
- Abandonment: If the tenant abandons the property without giving written notice to the landlord, this provision allows the landlord to terminate the lease agreement.
- Security Deposit: Under Alabama law, the maximum security deposit allowed is one month’s rent, except for additional security deposits that may be charged for pets and for using the rental unit in a way that might increase liability for the landlord. Alabama law also requires the return of the security deposit within 60 days after the rental unit is vacated by the tenant and is left in a good condition.
As of July 1, 2014, the Alabama legislature has enforced changes to the Alabama Landlord-Tenant Act, giving landlords up to 60 days after the end of tenancy to refund a tenant’s security deposit, instead of 35. (See Section 35-9A-201 of the Code of Alabama.)
- Failure to Pay Rent or Causing Damage to the Premises: These are the provisions about what happens if a tenant fails to pay rent or damages the premises. It describes the eviction proceedings. It includes the provisions about terminating the lease agreement and the ability for the landlord to sue an evicted tenant for the recovery of the cost of actual damages.
- Prohibited Items: This is a list of things that cannot be kept in the rental unit such as a waterbed. It also may prohibit things that might be installed on the rental unit such as a large satellite dish unless the landlord gives specific written permission.
- Subordination: The tenant agrees that the tenant’s rights are subject to the terms and conditions of any underlying mortgage or financing on the property.
- Rent Increases: This states that the rent amount may increase upon certain circumstances such as lease termination/renewal and that the tenant will get a 30 days advance written notice that a rental increase will occur.
- Joint Responsibility: This states that if there is more than one tenant, each one will have joint and severable (individual) responsibility for the terms of the lease agreement.
- Contact Information: This section gives the contact information for the tenant(s), landlord, and the landlord’s agent or property manager (if any).
- Fax and Email Communication: This clause allows fax and emails to be used as a form for notices and written communications.
- Megan’s Law: This disclaims any responsibility for the landlord or the landlord’s agent or property manager (if any) to provide any information to the tenant about sex offenders living in the vicinity of the rental unit. The tenant agrees to seek out the information from the public Alabama Sex Offender Registry if the tenant desires to know this information.
- Binding: This clause has the standard legal language that the agreement is binding on any successors or assigns of the landlord or tenant.
- General Provisions: This states that the written lease agreement is the entire agreement and that there is no reliance by either party on anything that is not contained in the written agreement.
- Signatures: This section has the signatures of all the parties to the agreement and witnesses to the signatures.
This is a lease (the “Lease”) […] between (Name of owner of the property) (“Landlord”) and (Name of person(s) to whom the property is leased) (“Tenant”), made this day of (Date).
TERM. The lease will be for a term of (Number of months) beginning on (Start date) and ending on (End date).
PREMISES. The premises is a (Type of dwelling i.e. house, apartment, etc.) located at (Address of rental property). The following features are included on the property (List of amenities).
RENT & UTILITIES. Tenants will pay a monthly rent of (Rent amount) on the (Day) of each month. Tenants are responsible for utilities including (List of utilities).
Indicating these features in the lease introduction provides tenants with a list of items that they have access to throughout the duration of the lease and informs tenants which features are expected to remain on-premises after the lease term is complete. It also protects the landlord’s property upon the termination of the residential lease agreement
For landlords, this information should be used for verification purposes. Make sure to ask for current photo identification, such as a driver’s license, to verify each tenant’s identity. Once that’s verified, you’ll want to do background checks on all tenants 18 or older (see our guide here).
Required Disclosures in Alabama
Each state’s landlord-tenant laws have different requirements for what needs to be disclosed in a residential lease agreement. Alabama is no different. There are two things you NEED to have included.
Landlord’s Name and Address
According to section 35-9A-202 of the Alabama Code, landlords are required to “disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and business address of:
- (1) the person authorized to manage the premises; and
- (2) an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands.”
Lead-Based Paint Hazards
This is the required legal disclosure for the potential hazard of lead paint that applies to rental properties built before 1978. This isn’t Alabama-specific, but for rental properties built before 1978, the landlord is required to do the following 3 things:
- Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint. (See latest pamphlet PDFs here).
- Disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint in the unit (i.e. its location, condition, etc.), and include any records or reports about the paint or its hazards. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.
- Fill out and attach this disclosure form to the lease.
Optional Sections to Include
Beyond the basic elements of a lease agreement and what needs to be disclosed in the state of Alabama, there are some additional details and sections you’ll also want to include. Custom clauses may need to be created if the property or the lease agreement has terms and conditions not described in this guide. Seek legal counsel from a competent real estate attorney for help with major modifications to this basic structure of the lease agreement and for help with additional clauses.
- Pets: This clause covers the allowed types of pets, the number of pets allowed, and the specifics about any additional pet deposits required.
- Additional Tenant Obligations: If the rental unit is a house, the tenant’s obligations may include being responsible for landscaping and property maintenance.
- Military: This special provision gives any U.S. military service member the option to terminate a lease with 30 day’s notice, without penalty, if the service member is called up for active duty or transferred to another location by military orders.
- Rules for Common Areas: If the rental unit has access to common areas, such as a shared swimming pool, this section gives the rules and regulations about the use of common areas.
In January 2008, the Alabama laws changed to provide a basic structure under the Code of Alabama. This basic structure includes clauses that apply to all residential leases for properties located within the state, regardless of whether the clause is actually included in the lease. The Alabama laws cover many things that do not have to be included in a residential lease but nevertheless must be followed.
This law is found in Code of Alabama Title 35, Chapter 9A and contains the following sections:
- Article 1: This section includes general information about the state laws and the definitions of legal terms.
- Article 2: This section includes the obligations of landlords.
- Article 3: This section includes the obligations of tenants.
- Article 4: This section include the remedies for tenants, the remedies for landlords, periodic tenancy, access abuse, and the court actions that can be taken by landlords including eviction, suing for damages, and injunctive relief.
- Article 5: This section includes the laws about retaliatory conduct.
- Article 6: This section covers the topics of the effective date, old contracts made before 2007, and severability.
Let’s go through the most important ones below.
Only one month’s rent can be requested for a security deposit except for pets and special risky circumstances. Interest does not have to be paid on any security deposits held by a landlord and the funds can be commingled with other landlord funds. Furthermore, Alabama landlords must return the security deposit by first-class mail to the address provided in writing by the tenant within 60 days of a lease’s termination, otherwise they will have to refund the tenant double the original security deposit amount. (The refund must be accompanied by an itemized list of damages or rent owed, in cases where the landlord withholds part or all of the security deposit.) Tenants have 90 days to claim their security deposit; beyond this, they forfeit their right to a refund claim.
Lease Termination/Breaking a Lease
Alabama law under Section 35-9A-441 recognizes three types of rental agreements and their termination notices, which are:
- Weekly: For a weekly rental, either the landlord or the tenant may terminate the agreement by giving the other party a minimum of seven days notice before one of the next periodic rental payments.
- Monthly: For a month-to-month rental, the Alabama law requires a landlord or a tenant to give a minimum of 30 days notice for a residential lease termination. The 30 days are counted from before one of the next periodic rental payments.For example, if it is in the middle of September and rent is paid on the first of each month, the 30 days notice would have to be for the first of November to vacate. The first of October could not be used because it would not be a minimum of 30 days from the middle of September.
- Stated Term Longer Than One Month: If the rental unit has a lease that is for a certain stated period, such as a year, the tenant need not give notice. The tenant may simply vacate the rental unit on, or before, the date of the termination of the lease, unless there is an automatic renewal provision in the lease. If there is an automatic renewal provision in the lease, and the tenant wants to vacate the rental unit, a residential lease termination letter needs to be served (delivered) on the landlord at least 30 days before the last month’s rent is due on the lease before the automatic renewal would occur. To be safe, and clearly indicate the landlord’s intentions, a landlord should issue a residential lease termination notice, if the landlord wants to terminate the lease on the date of its expiration. This residential lease termination letter needs to be served (delivered) on the tenant 30 days before the last month’s rent is due on the lease.
If the landlord does not issue a residential lease termination notice, the tenant, under Alabama law Section 35-9A-161(d) may stay thereafter, with the landlord’s consent, on a weekly or a month-to-month basis, depending on how they previously paid the rent. In this case, the rules for weekly or monthly agreements, as described above, apply.
The lease termination forms for a week-to-week tenancy and a month-to-month tenancy are identical, except the weekly rental requires seven days’ notice and the monthly rental requires 30 days’ notice before the next rent payment date. Both a tenant and a landlord can use the same form to give to the other party to notify them of the lease termination.
A landlord in Alabama may evict a tenant for failure to pay rent, violation of rental agreement, and illegal behaviors. For different situations, different amounts of notice are required. Here is a key:
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 7-Day Notice to Pay Rent
- Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 10- & 30-Day Notice to Vacate (for weekly & monthly renters, respectively)
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 14-Day Notice to Remedy; 7-day Unconditional Quit Notice for illegal drug use/possession or assault
The fastest a landlord may evict a tenant is 7 days via a termination notice. A tenant may not cure a breach to the lease agreement more than twice within a twelve month period unless agreed to by the landlord.
A tenant has seven days to challenge an eviction ruling once the court has found in favor of eviction. At the end of this seven-day period, the landlord will obtain a Writ of Possession. If the tenant remains on the property in question, a Sheriff will serve them with a copy of the Writ. The tenant is then given a short period of time to vacate the property or be physically removed from the property.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I find out more about landlord duties and responsibilities in Alabama?
The Code of Alabama has the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This is the state law governing leases for residential properties such as apartments, condominiums, homes, townhouses, manufactured homes, mobile homes, ranch homes, cabins, and other dwellings where people live.
How many days’ notice must a landlord give before raising rent in Alabama?
Landlords must give a tenant 30 days advance notice in writing before raising the rent and seven days for a late rent payment before beginning an eviction procedure. Tenants cannot withhold rent to pay for repairs.
Are there Alabama-specific guidelines I should observe when screening applicants?
Under federal law, housing discrimination by a landlord is prohibited. A landlord may not discriminate based on a person’s race, the color of their skin, their national origin, their religion, their gender, family status or if a person has a disability. A landlord’s retaliation against a tenant or potential tenant for making a discrimination complaint is also prohibited.
What clauses should I avoid when drafting residential lease agreements?
The Alabama law has some specific prohibitions of things that cannot be included in a lease. These clauses are void if they appear in any lease made after January 1, 2007, or one that started before that and continued into 2007 or beyond.
Additionally, any landlord who knowingly uses such prohibited clauses in a residential lease agreement made after January 1, 2008 may be the subject of a legal action by a tenant or a prospective tenant under the rules of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act found in the Code of Alabama section 35-9A-163 (the “ACT”).
The Alabama Association of REALTORS® says that these prohibitions for things that cannot be in a lease agreement include the following:
- Waiver of Tenant’s Rights/Remedies: The lease agreement cannot include any legal language that waives a tenant’s rights or remedies. This includes things that are the landlord’s responsibilities such as compliance with the rules of the ACT. It also includes failure that is “wrongful” for the landlord to provide water, heat, hot water, and essential services. Wrongful means that the failure is done on purpose by the landlord and not caused by something beyond the landlord’s control, such as a system breakdown, emergency, or a natural disaster.
- Confessing a Judgment: The lease agreement cannot include any legal language that causes a tenant to confess a judgment on a claim that may arise from a lease. Confessing a judgment in a contract allows one party to enter a judgment of a specific amount of money, against the other party to the agreement, without having to go through a court proceeding. This is not allowed in a residential lease agreement in Alabama.
- Landlord Legal Fees and Costs: The lease agreement cannot include any legal language that the tenant agrees to pay the attorney fees of the landlord and/or the cost of collections.
- Limitation of Landlord Liability: The lease agreement cannot include any legal language that the tenant agrees to a limitation of the landlord’s liability or indemnification of the landlord’s liability and any costs associated with this liability.
After understanding what legal language cannot be included in the lease agreement, the idea is to follow the basic agreement structure outlined above. Then, add any of the optional clauses that are appropriate for a specific lease agreement. Under Alabama law, the parts of the legal language found in the ACT do not have to be specifically included in the written lease agreement. These clauses are included by reference even when they are not specifically stated.
Are there variations to writing a residential lease agreement?
Landlords have the option to use a short-form lease agreement that does not restate the statutory provisions that already exist under the law. The landlord still must follow all the specifics of the law.
The best practices are to use a long-form agreement approach, which includes the legal language that repeats what is in the existing state law. Many landlords find this to be useful way to inform and educate the tenants especially about the landlord’s remedies in relations to a tenant’s rights under the law.
Follow this guide and be careful not to have any clauses that are prohibited under Alabama law. Avoid practices prohibited by federal law such as discrimination. Landlords who do this will be able to have a clear lease agreement document that protects all the parties.