The information in this page is provided as a free resource for renters in Alabama. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice or additional legal help, contact https://legalservicesalabama.org/

Does Alabama have “rent control?”

Rent is not regulated in Alabama. And cities in Alabama aren’t allowed to create their own rent control. That means landlords anywhere in Alabama can charge whatever price they think is appropriate.

Source: Alabama Code § 11-80-8.1

What does it mean to have a “safe, habitable” place to live in Alabama?

Landlords in Alabama must do the following:

  • Comply with local building codes.
  • Make repairs and keep their rental properties safe and habitable.
  • Keep all common areas clean and safe.
  • Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances that they provide in the rental.
  • Provide and maintain appropriate trash cans, and arrange for the trash to be collected.
  • Supply running water, reasonable amounts of hot water, reasonable heat at all times. This isn’t required if the rental unit isn’t required by law or building code to have heat, water, or hot water, or if it’s built in such a way that heat and hot water are controlled only by the renter and supplied directly by a public utility.

Source: Alabama Code § 35-9A-204

Does my landlord have to provide smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in Alabama ?

Alabama requires smoke detectors to be installed in bedrooms and adjoining hallways. It also requires carbon monoxide detectors in rentals that contain a “fuel-fired appliance,” like a wood-burning stove. Carbon monoxide detectors also have to be in stalled if the rental has an attached garage, or the garage opening is connected to the rental unit.

Source: Alabama Administrative Code r. 535-X-10-.03

How long does my landlord have to fix problems at my apartment in Alabama?

That depends on how severe the problem is. If a rental unit has problems that make it unsafe or unlivable, that’s an emergency. The renter should tell the landlord what needs to be repaired in writing, then the landlord has 14 days to complete the repair. If they don’t, the tenant may be able to break their lease without a fee or even sue the landlord. Before ending a lease or considering a lawsuit, renters should talk to an attorney. This 14 day timeline only applies to the kinds of repairs covered in the “safe and habitable” section above.

SixFifty couldn’t find any timelines for repairs that don’t affect health and safety in Alabama law. But the process for “emergency” repairs also applies if the landlord breaks the lease. So if a lease says that the landlord has to make any repairs, and then they don’t, the renter can send a written notice and give the landlord 14 days to complete the repairs.

Source: Alabama Code § 35-9A-401

What can I do if my landlord can’t or won’t fix problems at my apartment in Alabama?

Vacate, Sue

If a renter requests the landlord to make a repair that affects the rental’s habitability requirements, and the landlord fails to do so within 14 days, the renter may be able to break the lease, recover their security deposit, and sue for any damages.

What are the rules for security deposits in Alabama, and how do I get my security deposit refunded?

The landlord can withhold a deposit for damages caused by the tenant’s breach of any of the duties outlined in Section 35-9A-301.

The landlord must deliver either a full deposit or an itemized list of ” the amount of damages that the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant’s noncompliance with Section 35-9A-301″ plus any remaining portion of the deposit to the tenant within 60 days of move out. If the landlord fails to deliver the deposit/itemized list in that time, “the landlord shall pay the tenant double the amount of the tenant’s original deposit.”

What kind of notice does my landlord need to give me in Alabama?

Eviction

Landlords must give tenants seven days to pay rent (or cure whatever other violation might exist) before terminating the lease and beginning eviction proceedings.

Entry

Landlords must give tenants two days’ notice before entering the dwelling unless it is an emergency or the landlord has a court order.

Other Required Notices in Alabama

To terminate periodic tenancies (i.e., those not governed by a long-term lease), the landlord must give the tenant at least one period’s worth of notice. This means a week for week-to-week tenancies, a month for month-to-month tenancies, etc.

At or before the start of the tenancy, the landlord must deliver a written notice to the tenant containing the name and business address of:

  • (1) the person authorized to manage the premises; and
  • (2) an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and receiving and receipting for notices and demands.

Can I end my lease early in Alabama?

If something comes up in your life, you may find that you need to end your lease early. This can be stressful and very expensive, with most leases including steep penalties and fines for early termination. Here are some potential options.

Military

If you’re active military, you may be able to terminate your lease early under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides certain protections for active-duty military members, including the right to terminate a lease early if you receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or deployment. To terminate your lease early under the SCRA, you must provide your landlord with written notice and a copy of your orders. The notice must be provided at least 30 days before the date on which you intend to terminate the lease.

Subleasing

Subleasing, or “subletting” is when a tenant who is renting an apartment rents it out to someone else. That way, the landlord is still collecting rent, but someone else is paying it.
If a landlord unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas, or other essential service, the tenant may recover possession or terminate the rental agreement. If a landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes excessive demands for entry otherwise lawful, but which have the effect of unreasonably harassing the tenant, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.

What should I know about eviction in Alabama?

In most areas, including Alabama, you cannot be evicted for owing fees. A landlord cannot evict a tenant solely for non-payment of fees that are not related to rent, such as late fees or other charges.

Alabama mandates that tenants be given a 7-day cure period if they fail to pay rent, but if it is not paid in that time, the landlord can seek eviction in a district court, and there does not appear to be many safe harbors or special defenses available to tenants. That said, the landlord can’t win an eviction proceeding without following the required procedure, so a tenant could avoid eviction with evidence that the landlord did not provide the required notice. (this is based on a review of the statutes and some secondary sources – it’s possible we could turn up more by looking into court opinions on this issue). Additionally, Jefferson County courts will sometimes stay eviction proceedings if the tenant has applied for rental assistance. Jefferson County offers a free form tenants can use to reply to eviction complaints.

Where can I get help if I’m being evicted in Alabama?

https://www.alabamalegalhelp.org/find-legal-help?subtopic=eviction&topic=housinghttps://legalservicesalabama.org/https://www.alabar.org/for-the-public/get-legal-help/

What can I do if my landlord harasses me or discriminates against me in Alabama?

Alabama’s Fair Housing Act provides: Your fair housing rights are violated when, based on one of these factors, someone prevents you from:

  • Viewing or renting an apartment:
  • Viewing or purchasing a home:
  • Applying for or obtaining a mortgage loan:
  • Buying homeowner’s or renter’s insurance

Aggrieved individuals can:

  • Call your Alabama area Fair Housing Center
  • Central Alabama Fair Housing Center at (334) 263-4663
  • Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama at (205) 324-0111
  • Mobile Fair Housing Center at (251) 479-1532

Call or write to HUD’s Fair Housing Regional Office:

  • Atlanta Regional Office of FHEO
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Five Points Plaza 40 Marietta Street, 16th floor
  • Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2806
  • (404) 331-5140
  • 1-800-440-8091
  • TTY (404) 730-2654

Landlords must give tenants 2-days notice before entering dwelling, unless it is an emergency or the landlord has a court order (see required notices). If a landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes excessive demands for entry, otherwise lawful but which have the effect of unreasonably harassing the tenant, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement (see how can I end my lease early) Landlords must give tenants 2-days notice before entering dwelling, unless it is an emergency or the landlord has a court order (see required notices)If a landlord makes an unlawful entry or a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner or makes excessive demands for entry otherwise lawful but which have the effect of unreasonably harassing the tenant, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement (see how can I end my lease early)

SixFifty can help!

Now that you know your rights as a renter in Alabama, what can you do? Take action! SixFifty built HelloLandlord with the University of Arizona and Brigham Young University as a free resource for people who can’t afford legal help.

You can use HelloLandlord to:
Make a plan with your landlord to avoid eviction
Request repairs
Ask for a copy of your lease
Get your security deposit refund

Tens of thousands of Americans have used HelloLandlord to assert their rights. It only takes 5 minutes to generate a high-quality letter—the kind of letter a lawyer would write. And we offer discount codes so you can send your letter by mail, right from your computer.

SixFifty is building more tools to help renters all the time. For more information, email probono@sixfifty.com.

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