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Read further to learn more about the residential lease termination process in Alabama and how many days notice are required in which situations.
What is a Lease Termination Notice?
A residential lease termination notice is delivered to a tenant when a landlord requests to end the lease agreement. The ultimate goal of this notice is to have the tenant move out of the property within the specific time frame indicated by Alabama law.
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 Alabama Residential Lease Termination Notice Form
The 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.
The notice may be served on the other party by handing it to them in person. This can be done on behalf of the landlord or the tenant by any adult person. An adult person must give the notice and sign a certification form that they did this. The notice for a tenant may be given to any adult that is authorized to live with the tenant in the rental property.
Do not use children for the delivery or give the notice to any children. That is not an effective legal service. Do not give the notice to an adult who is known to be impaired, such as a person with Alzheimer’s. Give it to their adult caregiver instead.
If this method of in-person delivery is used, make two identical copies of the notice. Have the person receiving the notice sign one of the copies and give the signed one back to prove that they received the notice.
As an alternative, the notice can be mailed as a certified letter with return receipt requested or sent by a courier service such as FedEx or UPS. Make sure to request that the delivery driver get a signature for leaving the letter package. The signature helps prove that the other party received the notice.
Filling Out the Alabama Residential Lease Termination Form
Information from the written lease agreement is used to fill out the form. Check to see the date when the lease agreement was signed and became effective (which may be a different date). See what date it expires. Check for an automatic renewal provision. Note the periodic payment day (for example, rent is paid weekly each Friday, or on the first of each month).
Here are the steps to take to fill out the form properly:
- Step 1. Figure out the date of the next periodic payment day on a calendar, count either seven days (weekly tenancy) or 30 days (monthly tenancy) from this date. This is the termination date that is used for the notice.
- Step 2. Enter the names of the tenant(s) on the form and their mailing address (usually this the same as the address of the rental unit but may be different).
- Step 3. Enter the name of the property complex (if any) where the rental unit is located and the address at that property. For example, Alabama Residential Complex Name, Apartment Number, and City in Alabama.
- Step 4. Enter the effective date of the termination and the next periodic rental payment date. Make sure the effective date is at least seven days (weekly tenancy) or 30 days (monthly tenancy) after the next periodic rental payment date.
- Step 5. Sign the notice, print your name, and enter the date that you are signing the form.
- Step 6. Serve the notice on the other party right away using a proper method of service. Depending on the method used, allow some extra days for delivery for making your calculation of the minimum days required before the termination date.
What happens if a tenant fails to vacate the rental unit by the termination date?
Under Alabama law Section 35-9A-441(c), if the tenant does not vacate the rental unit on the correct date after receiving a proper notice with the required minimum number of days, the landlord may file an action with the county court for possession (eviction).
If the tenant is acting in bad faith and the tenant’s actions are willful, a landlord is entitled to recover up to three month’s rent or the actual damages, whichever is greater, plus the cost of reasonable attorney’s fees.
Can a tenant vacate the rental unit prior to the termination date?
Yes, this is allowed. However, the parties must agree to any rental deduction for the days the tenant leaves earlier than the final date allowed, based on a calculation of a daily rate. The landlord does not have to give this rental deduction; however, it usually a good idea to do so for a smooth transition.