Alabama ranks among the more landlord-friendly states. As a matter of fact, until the year 2007, there was little to no law protecting the tenant. But times are changing and it is important that all Alabama landlords and property investors be familiar with the ever-shifting legal environment.
At a Glance:
Security Deposit Limit: 1 month’s rent
Late Fee Limits: None
Returned Payment Fee Limit: $30 plus applicable costs of collection.
Notice to Enter: 48 hours
Security Deposit Limit: Alabama puts a limit of an amount equal to one month rent except for pets. There is no stated limitations on how much landlords can collect as a security deposit for pets.
Return of the Deposit: On or before the 35th day that the tenant moves out and the tenancy is terminated, the landlord must give to the tenant the full security deposit or a written breakdown of all deductions made. This notice will be sent to the provided forwarding address of the tenant. If the tenant failed to provide a forwarding address, then landlord must send it to the last known address via first class mail.
Late Fee Limit: There are no known or identified limits placed on how much a landlord or property manager may collect for a late fee. There is case law in Alabama regarding late charges and interest that was considered unreasonable; this, however would be decided on a case by case basis.
Every state has certain requirements for the minimum standards of upkeep and repair that the owner of rental real estate must adhere to, and Alabama is no different. The main services such as electrical, plumbing, heating, etc. must be kept in working condition. Running water must be available. There may be an agreement in writing or in the lease agreement where a tenant may provide some repairs and maintenance. Township and local regulations may be more stringent. It is important for the landlord to contact their local housing, zoning or Fire Marshall’s office to understand any restrictions in place.
Right of Entry:
A landlord must provide to the tenant at least two days or 48 hours advanced notice before entering the rental property. This does not include emergency situations however.
Notice to End Lease:
A month-to-month lease is terminated by either party giving 30 days’ advance notice to the other; week-to-week leases require seven days’ notice. A lease that has a fixed term with a stated ending date would end according to the terms written in the lease agreement. If the lease is silent on these requirements, the tenant must vacate at the end date of the lease unless the landlord provides an offer to renew.
Alabama’s legal motion of eviction is called an “action for unlawful detainer”. It is started with proper notice being served to the tenant to terminate the agreement. Notice can be served in the manner prescribed by the lease contract or at least seven days’ advance written notice. After the elapsed time passes, the landlord must send another letter stating that the tenant must surrender possession within ten days of receiving the notice. If the tenant remains, then the landlord can go to the district courthouse and file a complaint to initiate the proceedings for an unlawful detainer. If the hearing rules for the landlord, a writ of execution will be issued which gives the permission of the sheriff to give possession back to the landlord.
(This is simply a summary of how a typical Alabama eviction may occur, however every circumstance is different. Please note that evictions can be complicated and an attorney or legal counsel should be consulted.)
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