Alabama Landlord Tenant Laws

This is a summary of Alabama Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Code of Alabama, the  Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Alabama landlord-tenant laws, Alabama eviction laws, and Alabama renters’ rights. 

However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.  If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.

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Rules and Regulations Governing Alabama Landlord Tenant Laws

Code of Alabama 35-9 — Landlord and Tenant

Code of Alabama 35-9A —Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Alabama Lease Terms Provisions

Security Deposits

  • What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
    The security deposit cannot exceed one month’s rent, with a few exceptions. Additional deposits are allowed for pets, changes to the unit, and any specific tenant activities that increase the landlord’s risk of liability. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(a))
  • Are security deposits required to earn interest?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring security deposits to earn interest.

  • Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account? 

No. There is no Alabama law requiring security deposits to be stored in a separate bank account.

  • Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?

No. Alabama laws do not forbid non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge. 

  • How long do landlords have to return security deposits?

60 days. (Ala. Code §35-9A-201(b))

  • Can landlords withhold security deposits?

Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent and to repair any damages to the property caused by tenants’ failures to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (Ala. Code §35-9A-201(b))

  • Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?

Yes. An itemized list, detailing the amount withheld and the reasons for withholding, must be sent via first class to the tenant within 60 days, so long as the tenant provided the landlord with a valid forwarding address. (Ala. Code §35-9A-201(c); Ala. Code §35-9A-201(e))

  • Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.

  • Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?

No. There is no Alabama law specifying record-keeping requirements.

  • What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?

A landlord must pay double the amount of the original security deposit if the security deposit refund and/or accounting is not returned within 60 days. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(f))

Rent

  • Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)

No. There are no rent control laws in Alabama. (Ala. Code §11-80-8.1).

  • When is rent due?

Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. Unless they agree to a different arrangement, rent is due at the beginning of the month and will be paid in equal monthly installments. For week-to-week tenancies, rent is due every week. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-161(c); Ala. Code § 35-9A-161(d))

  • Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring a certain payment method for rent.

Fees

  • Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?

Yes. Alabama law does not forbid late fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.

  • Can landlords charge application fees?

Yes. There is no Alabama law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Can landlords charge returned check fees?

Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee up to the greater of the actual bank charge for the returned check or $30. (Ala. Code § 8-8-15)

Alabama Landlord-Tenant Relations

Notices

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms. However, landlords cannot raise your rent in the middle of your lease.

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?

No. There is no Alabama law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.

  • What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?

No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease. (Ala. Code § 35-9-8).

  • What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic lease?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 7 days written notice. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-441(a))

  • What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic lease?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease with 30 days written notice. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-441(b))

In all cases of tenancy for the term less than 1 year, where tenant holds over without a special agreement, landlord can terminate the lease with 10 days written notice (Ala. Code §35-9-5)

  • Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?

There is no statute in Alabama law covering this issue. 

Entry Provisions

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
    • To inspect the premises. 
    • To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
    • To supply necessary or agreed services. 
    • To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(a))
  • What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?

The landlord must provide written notice, posted on the primary door of entry, of the intended time and purpose of the entry at least 2 days in advance. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(c))

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
    • In case of an emergency.
    • Under a court order.
    • When the landlord has reasonable cause to believe the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
    • To make repairs to conditions materially affecting health and safety and caused by the tenants’ failure to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(b))

Alabama Landlord and Tenant Duties

Landlord’s Duties (Ala. Code § 35-9A-204)

  • Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition.
  • Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
  • Landlords must maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
  • Landlords must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of garbage, rubbish, and other waste, and arrange for their removal.
  • Landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat except where the building is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or if heat or hot water in the unit is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.

Tenant’s Duties (Ala. Code § 35-9A-301)

  • Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises allows.
  • Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
  • Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures as clear as their condition permits.
  • Tenants must use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises in a reasonable manner;
  • Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit any person to do so.
  • Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Required Landlord Disclosures

  • Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of: 
    • the person authorized to manage the premises.
    • the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving notices. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-202)
  • Before renting pre-1978 property, Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65)

Alabama Renters’ Rights

  • What rights do tenants have if their landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)

If a landlord’s failure to comply with the rental agreement or their legal duties materially affects health and safety, the renter may deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the issue(s). If the landlord does not remedy the breach within 14 days of receiving notice,  the lease will terminate. The entire security deposit must be refunded, and the tenant is also entitled to recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees and obtain injunctive relief (Ala. Code § 35-9A-401)

  • Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlord’s duties?

No. Alabama law prohibits tenants from withholding rent to enforce their legal rights. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-164).

  • Are tenants permitted to sublease their rental units?

There is no Alabama law regarding subletting, so tenants may sublease so long as their lease allows for subleasing or does not mention it.

  • What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Alabama renters’ rights?

Alabama law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency of a violation materially affecting health and safety, complained to the landlord about a breach of landlord’s duties, or if the tenant has organized or becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-501(a))

Alabama Eviction Laws

  • What notice must landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process in Alabama?
    • For evictions based on non-payment of rent, material noncompliance with the rental agreement (first offense), or a material health and safety violation the landlord must give a 7-day notice to remedy the breach before starting the eviction process. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(a)), (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(b))
    • For evictions based on misrepresentations in the rental agreement or application, illegal activity, or a second breach of the lease obligations involving a breach that is similar to a previous breach that has been cured by the tenant in the last 6 months, landlords must give a 7-day notice of termination of the lease before starting the eviction process. Landlords do not have to permit the tenant to cure these types of breaches. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(d))
    • For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide a 7-day notice to terminate a week-to-week tenancy and a 30-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. If the tenant remains on the rental property after the termination date, the landlord can begin the eviction process without providing additional notice. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-441)
  • Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?

Yes.  In Alabama, a landlord may recover actual damages, reasonable attorney fees,  and/or obtain injunctive relief for a tenant’s noncompliance with the rental agreement or the tenant’s duties. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(c))

  • Are landlords permitted to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities? 

No. If a landlord evicts a tenant using self-help methods, the tenant can choose to recover possession or terminate the lease. Tenants can recover the greater of three months’ rent or the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-407)

COVID-19 Changes to Alabama Landlord-Tenant Laws

Squatter’s rights in Alabama

Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.

Alabama has no specific laws recognizing squatters.

The person (squatter) can make an adverse possession claim under following conditions:

  • The squatter showed that a deed or other color of title has been duly recorded in the office of the judge of probate of the county in which the property locates for 10 years.
  • The squatter paid property taxes for 10 years (if the property is subject to taxation).
  • The squatter derives title by descent cast or devise from a predecessor in the title who was in possession of the property (Ala. Code § 6-5-200(a))

Such possession must be:

  • Hostile (without permission of the real owner).
  • Actual (having control over the property).
  • Exclusive (physically possessed solely by the squatter).
  • Open and notorious (publicly possessing the property, like the real owner would).
  • Continuous period of time. (Strickland v. Markos 566 So. 2d (1990))

Also, the squatter can claim ownership for the possession for 20 years (Bradley v. Demos, 599 So. 2d 1148 (Ala. 1992))

Related Links

Government 

Legal Aid

Attorney Referral Services

Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations

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