The current Alabama landlord-tenant laws define the rights and responsibilities of each party and the extent to which they can interact. While these laws cover different aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, they can be difficult to understand.
This article presents these laws in an easy-to-understand manner to help Alabama landlords and tenants know how far they can reach in their relationships. It covers topics like lease agreements, tenant screening, security deposits, and repairs. Read on to learn more.
Is Alabama a Landlord-Friendly State?
Alabama is considered a landlord-friendly state due to having laws that favor property owners. The following are the reasons for that:
1. Swift Repossession Procedures
It has streamlined eviction procedures that allow the swift repossession of property from tenants violating lease agreements or who fail to pay rent. The swift process minimizes the non-payment period, thus reducing the landlord’s financial burden.
2. Unlimited Security Deposit
Alabama law does not set a limit on the security deposit. Landlords can freely determine how much they think will cover unpaid rent or potential property damage. Thus, landlords have greater financial security.
3. Absence of Rent Control Policies
Alabama is one of the few states in America without its own rent control laws. Thus, the law allows landlords to set rent based on market demand without an imposed upper limit. In areas with high demand for rental property, this can lead to high profitability.
4. Rights to Terminate Leases
Alabama landlords have the right to terminate leases for reasons like failure to pay rent, violation of lease terms, and upon expiration of the lease term. Thus, landlords can manage their rental property more efficiently.
Landlord Rights in Alabama
The landlord-tenant law in Alabama grants landlords several authoritative rights that render property management easier. Here are the rights that landlords enjoy in Alabama:
1. Collection of Rent Payments
Alabama landlords have the right to collect rent payments when they fall due. As tenants keep paying rent, landlords are assured of a stable income stream.
2. Collection of Security Deposits
The Alabama landlord-tenant law allows the collection of security deposits. Thus, landlords can protect their investments against possible unpaid rent or property damage. Plus, they can keep the rental property in good condition using their vast financial resources.
3. Eviction of Tenants
Alabama landlords can evict tenants who are in breach of lease agreements or who have broken existing landlord-tenant laws. However, they must follow the prescribed eviction process. Landlords have the right to ensure the lawful and respectful use of their rental property.
Landlord Responsibilities in Alabama
Alabama landlords equally have several responsibilities toward tenants, who are their clients. The following are the landlord's responsibilities as prescribed by Alabama landlord-tenant laws:
Making Prompt Repairs
Just as they have a right to rent collection, a landlord has the responsibility to respond promptly to a tenant’s repair request. As a property owner, the landlord must repair the rental unit within two weeks. They must always maintain the rental property in habitable condition.
According to Alabama law, a landlord can enter a rental property after giving a two-day notice. Thus, the landlord must respect the tenant’s privacy, except in emergencies when a landlord enters immediately.
Security Deposit Refunds
On lease termination, Alabama landlords must refund the applicable security deposit in 60 days. With that, Alabama law ensures the timely refund of the security deposit.
Tenant Responsibilities in Alabama
Alabama landlord-tenant laws require tenants to undertake certain responsibilities for a harmonious and clean living environment. The responsibilities of Alabama tenants include the following:
1. Maintaining Cleanliness
An Alabama tenant should keep their living space tidy and hazard-free. As they keep the environment clean, they create a safer community.
2. Respecting Boundaries
Alabama tenants are expected to respect their neighbors and the rental unit. They should always live in peace.
3. Living Within the Bounds of the Lease Agreement
Alabama tenants should honor all applicable laws and respect the provisions of the rental agreement. According to the Alabama landlord-tenant laws, that includes refraining from illegal activities and paying rent on time.
Tenant Rights in Alabama
After signing a lease agreement, an Alabama tenant should enjoy certain key rights. Thus, they have the following rights:
Lease Termination Notice
Alabama law mandates the landlord to issue proper notice before terminating a lease. It is a seven-day notice for weekly leases. On the other hand, monthly leases attract 30 days of notice.
Correcting Violations Upon Notice
Alabama eviction laws allow tenants to pay rent or correct a lease violation after notice. They prescribe how much notice a landlord should give a tenant. Within seven days, they should have made corrections or decided to vacate the property.
Reclaiming Abandoned Property
After eviction, a tenant must claim abandoned personal property within two weeks. On the expiration of the period, the landlord is free to dispose of the property. Alabama law creates this provision to avoid complications with the tenant moving out of a rental unit.
General Alabama Landlord-Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act clearly defines the landlord-tenant relationship, helping each party to stay within prescribed boundaries. Every lease agreement should include certain aspects of the law, especially the ones described below:
Tenant Screening in Alabama
Landlord-tenant laws allow landlords to screen prospective tenants before leasing rental units to them. Besides background checks, it involves credit checks and other aspects that inform the suitability of tenants.
Alabama landlords carry out background checks based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act. No law limits an Alabama landlord on how much to charge for tenant screening.
Alabama Rental Agreement Laws
Alabama landlords have exclusive rights to set the lease terms and conditions. In Alabama, lease agreements can be oral or written.
Rental property owners can also terminate rental agreements for rent non-payment, lease violations, and the expiration of the lease term. Landlords must give a seven-day notice to evict Alabama tenants.
Besides regular rent payments, tenants must observe all the terms of a rental agreement. As such, they must adhere to restrictions on subletting, pets, and alteration of the property.
Tenants who intend to vacate the rental property must give a notice of seven days or 30 days based on the lease term. That is seven days for a weekly lease and 30 days for a monthly lease.
Laws on Security Deposit in Alabama
How Much Security Deposit?
Alabama law allows landlords to charge a security deposit of up to one month’s rent. No receipt is required, and the security deposit can be kept in the rent account. For tenants with pets, landlords can charge additional security deposits.
Alabama landlords must return the tenant’s security deposit not more than one month after vacating the property. However, the period can last up to 60 days after an extension. A tenant could sue a landlord who fails to return the deposit within 60 days.
Withholding of Deposit
Alabama landlord-tenant laws allow the landlord to partially withhold a security deposit if a tenant decides to withhold rent for no reason. That may also happen if the tenant violates the provisions of the lease.
The landlord must issue the tenant with a list showing the deductions made from the security deposit. After 60 days, the tenant cannot demand the deposit.
The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act doesn’t require the landlord to pay interest on security deposits. Thus, they only return the exact amount they had collected.
Alabama Rent Laws
Rental agreements mandate that Alabama landlords collect rent payments from tenants. Under the same lease agreements, tenants are obligated to pay rent of a given amount by the due date.
Late Rent Payment
If a tenant is late in paying rent, Alabama landlords are not obligated to provide a grace period before imposing late fees.
In the same way, Alabama tenants cannot withhold rent to enforce their rights or force the landlord to repair the premises. Also, they have no right to use rent to repair the building.
Repair and Maintenance Laws in Alabama
Responsibility to Maintain the Property
In Alabama, the landlord must ensure that the premises meet building and housing codes set by the local landlord-tenant laws. Landlords must make repairs 14 days after getting a repair request from the tenant.
Responsibility to Keep the Property Clean
However, it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep the rental property clean and habitable. Besides performing routine cleaning, they must keep the premises in good order. In cases of repair and maintenance issues, they must report promptly to the landlord.
Damage to the Property
If a tenant damages the rental property, a landlord can take legal action to recover financial losses and repair costs.
Alabama Notice-of-Entry Laws
Alabama landlords have the right to enter the rental property for reasons such as inspection, repairs, and showcasing the property to prospective renters. In that case, the landlord must issue two days' notice to the tenant. However, in an emergency, the landlord may enter without a warning.
However, landlords have no right to excessively intrude into rented premises or disrupt the peace. That constitutes landlord harassment and isn’t allowed by Alabama landlord-tenant laws.
Alabama Eviction Laws
Reasons for Eviction
Alabama landlords may evict tenants for various reasons, including the following:
- Failure to pay rent
- Lease violation
- Safety violation
- Providing false or misleading information
- Engaging in illegal activity
- When the lease term ends
The eviction process in Alabama begins with the landlord issuing an advance notice of seven days. Within that time, the tenant may pay rent, correct violations, or quit the rental premises.
What Happens Next?
According to the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, the next steps of the eviction process depend on how the tenant responds to the eviction notice. They include the following:
- Paying rent or Correcting a Violation: This ends the process of evicting a tenant in Alabama.
- Failure to Pay Rent or Correct the Situation: The landlord must file an eviction lawsuit to have the tenant quit the rental premises. That’s especially true if the security deposit is inadequate to cover the required amounts.
Alabama state laws do not allow self-help eviction of tenants. Thus, Alabama landlords cannot forcibly eject a tenant from rental premises. Instead, the landlord must follow prescribed procedures.
Alabama Housing Discrimination Laws
Alabama landlords must observe the provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act and local landlord-tenant laws. Hence, there can be no discrimination based on family status, national origin, sex, religion, color, race, or disability.
Alabama Landlord Retaliation Laws
The landlord-tenant law in Alabama does not allow landlord retaliation against tenants who exercise their right to join a housing-tenant organization or report housing code retaliations.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Alabama
Landlord-tenant laws in Alabama require landlords to disclose the following:
- Hazards on the rental property, such as lead-based paint
- The name and address of the property manager
- The name and address of the owner of the property
Does Alabama State Law Require Landlords to Have Insurance?
No, there is no requirement in Alabama landlord-tenant laws for a landlord to have insurance. However, landlord insurance is necessary to provide compensation after losses due to fire, water, natural disasters, riots, civil unrest, vandalism, and burglary.
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