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February 21, 2024

Eviction Process In Alabama: A Comprehensive Guide

Steadily's blog cover page for information around landlord insurance.

The eviction laws in Alabama vary from one county to another. However, the process is quite similar in all the counties. 

One thing to note is that the process depends on the lease agreement between the landlord and the tenant. Therefore, it is important that both the landlord and the tenant keep written documents on the lease agreement. 

This will avoid errors that would be exploited by the landlord or the tenant.

This article aims to educate both the landlord and the tenant on the legal eviction process they need to follow.

Reasons for Eviction in Alabama

As per tenant rights in Alabama, landlords cannot just evict a tenant; they must have a valid reason to evict a tenant.

Late Rent Payment

Rent is considered late if the tenant does not pay on the assigned date. They can also pay during the grace period if there is one on the lease agreement. 

Before starting the eviction process, the landlord must give the tenant a 7-day notice to pay. 

If the tenant will pay rent within seven days, then the landlord will stop filing for eviction. However, if the tenant fails to pay rent within the notice period, then the landlord can start filing for the eviction process in Alabama.

Lease violation

According to Alabama eviction laws, if there are lease agreement violations, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

In Alabama, both the landlord and the tenant must have a written rental agreement. It includes terms on which the landlord and the tenant both agree

If the tenant violates any of them, the landlord reserves the right to start the eviction process. 

Before filing for the eviction process in Alabama, the landlord has to give a 7-day notice to comply.

If the tenant chooses to comply with the lease agreements, the landlord ceases to file for eviction. 

Some of these violations include keeping pets, causing damage to property, using illegal drugs, and smoking, among others.

False or Misleading Information on the Rental Application Form

Landlords in Alabama have the right to file for eviction if they discover a lie in the tenant's rental application form. 

Some of the lies include the number of people living in the unit, the employment status of the former tenant's personal belongings, the tenant's eviction history, and others.

Tenants charged with sharing false information on their application are not given a notice to change. 

They are, however, given a 7-day notice to quit, which is seven days to vacate the premises.

Legal Activities

If the tenant fails to comply with all the rental agreements and commits an illegal activity, the Alabama Landlord Tenant Act allows the landlord to file for eviction. This will be on the grounds of lease violations.

If a tenant in Alabama is caught engaging in illegal activities within the rental property, they will be expected to move out within 7 days. 

This means the landlord will issue a written seven-day notice to quit.

Some of the illegal activities include theft, violence or other illegal activity, drug activities, illegal activity, and illegal use of a firearm, among many others.

Health and Safety Violations

Alabama law strictly takes into account some codes, including health codes and building and safety codes. 

If the tenant violates any of these codes, they are given a 7-day notice to comply.

The violations of the codes could include things like damaging the plumbing fixtures or the electrical wiring of a unit. 

Failing to take the trash bags, which invite bugs, is also a violation of a certain code.

If there is damage to the rental unit, the tenant should fix the damage within 7 days. If not, the landlord reserves the right to file for an eviction.

Non-renewal of a Lease Agreement

If a tenant lives a day after the rental agreement, the landlord can issue a written notice to move. 

If the lease or rental agreement is on a month-to-month basis, the landlord can issue a 30-day notice to quit instead of a seven-day one.

Alabama Eviction Process

After a landlord identifies a valid reason for evicting a tenant, they can provide a notice to the tenant. 

However, the landlord has to follow his eviction hearing process, which usually takes a few weeks until the tenant can be evicted.

Here's the Alabama eviction process the landlord needs to follow;

Serving a Written Notice

Depending on the rental property violation or lease agreement violation, the landlord can either give a proper notice to comply or notice to quit. 

A notice to comply usually gives the tenant time to correct their mistake. 

A notice to quit, however, does not give the tenant an opportunity to correct any violation. 

The tenant is expected to move out within the given notice period.

This is the first step in the eviction process that a landlord needs to take. 

Therefore, the landlord should seek legal counsel to ensure that they issue a legally correct written notice. 

An eviction attorney can greatly help in this step. You can also download the eviction laws whitepaper to get familiar with the Alabama eviction law.

Filing for an Eviction

Once the landlord serves the written notice, they should now wait for the notice period to elapse. 

If the tenant does not cure a violation or disagrees with the eviction notice, a landlord can start the process server filing for eviction in the circuit court.

The landlord can then file for the unlawful detainer, which is also referred to as an eviction lawsuit. 

Where to File an Eviction Lawsuit

According to Alabama landlord tenant laws, the landlord should only file the eviction lawsuit in a court located in the same county as the rental property.

Note that the landlord must pay some fees associated with proper legal procedures along with the filing fees for the case.

Serving the Summons

The bottom part of the eviction has the court summons that should be served to the tenant. 

After the claim has been filed, the complaint and the summons are sent to the county sheriff, who will serve them to the tenant. An eviction attorney can also serve the sermons 

Note that the summons, which include the court date, must be served to the tenant in accordance with Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure

This means that the summons should be served by the Sheriff, a constable, or even the landlord's for attorney's fees.

The summons could be served directly by hand, delivered to the front door of the rental property, or mailed to the mailing address of the tenant using certified first-class mail.

The Tenant's Answer

After they receive the summons, they only have seven days to send back a written document. The document is known as the Answer to Landlord's Claim. 

It comprises the tenant's defenses and reasons why they should not be evicted. 

The document should then be emailed to the landlord's attorney or the landlord.

If the tenant does this correctly, they will receive an Alabama eviction hearing. 

However, if they do not send the document correctly, they may receive a default judgment from the district court itself.

The Alabama Eviction Court Hearing

On the day of the court hearing, the landlord should appear with copies of the lease agreement, the initial eviction notice, and proof of service. 

They should also appear in court with any evidence of lease violations and the complaint.

The landlord and the tenant should present their cases in a justice court and their evidence to the court. The judge will then issue a judgment.

The Writ of Restitution or Possession

If the landlord wins, a Writ of Restitution or Possession will be issued. 

This gives permission to the sheriff to legally remove the personal property and belongings of the tenant from the rental property.

Note that the writ is delayed for about seven days, which gives the tenant enough time to vacate. 

Appeal

During the seven days when the writ is stayed, a tenant can file an appeal. If the tenant files an appeal, the clerk of court can schedule another hearing within 60 days from the day the appeal was filed.

Note that the appeal does not affect the writ. The tenant should still move out in seven days. 

How Does the Appeal Affect the Writ? 

However, the tenant can affect the writ by paying rent due or if they cure the lease violation. They should also continue paying rent and complying with the lease agreement. If the judge rules in favor of the tenant, the circuit court can issue another writ to the tenant.

Final Notice to Move Out

If the tenant does not move out, the court will issue the writ, which the landlord must take to the sheriff as soon as possible. 

The landlord should also pay for the eviction.

The sheriff will then serve the writ to the tenant by posting it on their unit. Note that this may take several days, depending on the Sheriff's schedule and when an officer can be found.

The Alabama eviction law, unfortunately, does not state exactly when the sheriff is expected to return and execute the eviction. 

However, the tenant should move out or risk forceful eviction proceedings.

Forceful Eviction

If the tenant does not move out of the rental property, the sheriff will forcefully evict them and restore possession to the landlord. 

The landlord will then restore the locks and remove any remaining items in the rental unit.

The items should then be stored for 14 days before they can be disposed of.

Final Word

As you can see, the Alabama eviction process is quite long, stressful, and expensive. Consider getting landlord insurance in Alabama before the rental agreement starts to cover any damages.

It may take days or even a few months before you can successfully evict a tenant.

Since, as a landlord, your main aim is to get profit from your rental units, legal eviction can be considered a loss. 

But what can a landlord do to ensure their losses are covered and the eviction process is less stressful?

This post is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal, financial, or tax advice. Consult your own legal, financial, or tax advisor for matters mentioned here. The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any of our policies. You should read the policy for a complete description of coverage. Coverage options, limits, discounts, deductibles and other features are subject to individuals meeting our underwriting criteria and state availability. Not all features available in all states. Discounts may not apply to all coverages. Steadily is not liable for any actions taken based on this information. If you believe any of this information may be inaccurate please contact us.

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