Alabama Rental Laws

Written on October 23, 2012 by , updated on April 10, 2019

Flag of AlabamaThis article summarizes some key Alabama Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules and Regulations

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: The security cannot exceed one month’s rent (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(a))
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statue
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
  • Non-refundable fees: No statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: Additional deposits are allowed for pets, undoing alterations (such as handrails and ramps for the handicapped), and any specific tenant activities that increase the risk of liability (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(a))
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 35 days (source)
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit: Landlords can use the deposit to pay unpaid and to repair any damages, beyond normal wear and tear, due to the tenant failing to meet the statutory requirements (as set forth in Ala. Code § 35-9A-301 of a tenant. (Ala. Code §35-9A-201(b))
  • Security Deposit can be Withheld: Yes. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(c))
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. The list, itemizing the amount withheld and for what reason, must be sent via first class to the tenant within 60 days. The tenant must provide the landlord a valid forwarding address to send the list to. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(d))
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
  • Failure to Comply: Tenants can receive up to twice the amount of the security deposit paid if the landlord does not mail the security deposit or an itemized list of withholdings with 60 days. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-201(f))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Rent is due as agreed to between the landlord and tenant. Unless otherwise agreed to, rent is due at the beginning of the month and will be paid in monthly installments. If the tenancy is week-to-week, the tenant will pay rent each week. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-161(c))
  • Payment Methods: No statute.
  • Rent Increase Notice: No statute.
  • Late Fees: No statute.
  • Application Fees: No statute.
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute.
  • Returned Check Fees: $30 plus other costs of collection (Ala. Code § 8-8-15)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): State statute does not specify whether a tenant may withhold rent in these circumstances. However, the rental agreement will terminate within 14 days of the tenant sending a written notice to the landlord specifying the breaches. The entire security deposit must be refunded, and the tenant can also recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees (Ala. Code § 35-9A-401)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No statute.
  • Self-Help Evictions: No. If evicted through self-help, tenants can recover up to three months rent, or the actual damages, whichever is great. The tenant can also recover “reasonable” attorney’s fees. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-407)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(c))
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: Yes, but state statute notes that “such duty shall not take priority over the landlord’s right to first rent other vacant units”. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-423(c))

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is required as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days written notice from either the landlord or the tenant (Ala. Code § 35-9A-441(b))
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 7 days written notice from either the landlord or the tenant (Ala. Code § 35-9A-441(a))
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: No statute.
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
  • Notice of Termination for Nonpayment: 7 days written notice to either pay any past due rent and associated late fees, or the rental agreement is terminated. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(b))
  • Notice for Lease Violation: 7 days written notice to remedy the violation, or the rental agreement is terminated. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(a))
  • Required Notice before Entry: 2 days, and the notice must be posted to the door. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(d))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs: Yes (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(d))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(a)(1))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Unannounced reasonable entry is allowed if the tenant is absent for more than 14 days. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(d))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showing the Property: Yes. The landlord must give the tenant two days’ notice before the showing (Ala. Code § 35-9A-303(b)(4))
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
  • Lockouts Allowed: No statute.
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No statute.

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: Landlords are required to disclose, in writing, the names and business addresses of the people authorized to manage the rental unit, as well as the unit’s owner, or whomever acts on the owner’s behalf. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-202)
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No statute.
  • Landlord’s Duties: (Ala. Code § 35-9A-204)
    • Compliance: Landlords are expected to comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes that materially impact a tenant’s health and safety;
    • Repairs: make all repairs and do whatever else necessary to keep the rental unit in a habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: Maintain a clean and safe condition in all common areas;
    • Maintenance: Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord;
    • Garbage: provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for removing garbage other waste.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (Ala. Code § 35-9A-301)
    • Cleanliness: keep that the unit occupied by the tenant as clean and safe as the condition of the rental unit permits;
    • Trash: dispose all ashes, garbage, and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
    • Plumbing: keep all plumbing fixtures in the unit, or others used by the tenant, as clear as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: reasonably use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other utilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises;
    • Damage: not deliberately or negligently destroy, damage, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly let another person do so; and,
    • Quiet Enjoyment: conduct oneself, and require other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent to conduct themselves, in a manner that does not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of their home.
  • Subleasing: No statute.
  • Retaliation: Landlords cannot increase rent, decrease services, or threaten to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency, complained to the landlord of a violation regarding landlord’s responsibility in maintaining the premises, or if the tenant becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization. (Ala. Code § 35-9A-501(a))
  • Lead Disclosure: 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.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: unknown

State agencies & regulatory bodies

Housing Authorities

Realtor and landlord/tenant associations

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94 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Bill Frank

    My comment is more in the form of a question. I have a home in Dothan, Alabama and I live in Tennessee. I have a mgmt. company caring for the house, but recently the lease has been renewed for 2 yrs. I have contacted the mgmt. company about the lease extension of which they sent me a copy of. Upon inspection of the document, the owner of the mgmt. company signed it on our behalf, but the tenant never signed it. Is this lease extension binding without the tenants signature? I have to sell the house due to financial issues and health problems with my wife. What do I do?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bill,

      Generally speaking, a contract is only binding if both parties sign it. Without both signatures, the contract was never ratified.

      You can sell the house regardless of if you have tenants or not. If you don’t have a signed 2 year contract, and the former contract has expired, then you are likely in a month-to-month situation and 30 days notice would be needed to terminate the lease per Alabama code 35-9A-441.

      Please talk to a lawyer (not your manager) about this. Your manager will likely cover his tail considering he should have gotten it signed in the first place. However, it looks like this might work in your favor.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help :)

  • Philip Moore

    I filed a small claims case against my landlord for not giving us an itemized list of damages within the time allowed by the lease. I sued for double the security deposit. He never mailed us a list, and in court, he showed the same documents that we did; which where all dated past the allowed time. And because of some confusion in the court (in my opinion), the judge ruled against us. Should I appeal this decision?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Phillip

      If you think the judgment was issued in error, an appear would be appropriate. However, it would be wise to consult an attorney in your area to assess the financial risks and chances of success.

  • Alyse

    I have a tenant who has not paid rent for the month of June and rent is due again today. I have sent a certified 7 day letter to pay or quit. I have sent another 7 day eviction letter. I have tried calling and going by the property and she has blocked my number and the neighbors advised me that she stays home all day as to avoid me. At this point I am willing to loose on the rent and just get her out. What options do I have if I just want her out without asking for payment?

    • janet

      It’s called Cash for Keys, it’s done alot, let them know you are willing to pay her x amount if she leaves by the date which you guve her. Make sure the date is reasonable amount of time and on that date meet at the place she gives you the keys and you give her a check and she is gone and you have your house back regardless of condition for it us what you stated you wanted.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Alyse

      As Janet suggests, “cash for keys” could work really well in this situation, if you can get over the pride of paying this tenant. Here’s an article I wrote on the topic: https://www.landlordology.com/cash-for-keys-bad-tenants-move-out/

      Other than that, you’d have to file an eviction action with your local courts, and it could take a few weeks (4-8).

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Katrina Robinson

    I have a question I live in Dothan Al and I always paid my rent on time never had a problem paying it. Now me and my better half went our separate ways and I was late on rent last month by 4 days and my landlord threatened to evict me. Im late again this month he’s taking the steps to evict me this time and im 7 days late. I mean before this I have always been the ideal tenant paid on time even before time. Im late not behind I never go into the next month owing him. He curses me out and talks bad to me now that there’s not a man here there anything I can do? Im still going to pay him im just a little late.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Katrina,

      In Alabama, a landlord can terminate a lease if the tenant is 7 days late on rent, but they have to send the tenant a 7 day notice to pay or quit first.

      If you get your lease terminated, there’s really nothing you can do except for hire a lawyer or hunker down and try to fight it in eviction court. I don’t know what would be best in your situation, but I do know that not paying your rent by the deadline is the quickest way to lose your right to occupy the house.

      Anyway, sorry that wasn’t the answer you were looking for, but I hope it helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • CL Holt

    On move in is it legal to collect first and last months rent plus security deposit equal to one months rent in State of Alabama?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi CL

      As far as I know, there is no statute that restricts a landlord from collecting pre-paid rent. And the deposit limit is one month’s worth.

      I hope that helps. Please know hat I’m not a lawyer not is this legal advice.

  • Aliysha

    I had a one year lease and after that year it would be month to month. My husband and I stayed there for almost three years. One day my landlord and husband got into an argument and he told him he wants us out in seven days. We left in three but are now in a place that we barely can afford. My question is can we sue him for that?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Aliysha,

      A month-to-month situation requires 30 days notice to terminate the lease per Alabama code 35-9A-441. But in my opinion, your opportunity to fight it would have been at the time that notice was given. You left voluntarily, and if you had stuck it out, he would have had to take you to eviction court where the judge would have put him in his place. But since you left voluntarily, there’s really nothing you can do except for ask for a rent refund for any days that you paid for but weren’t there. But even then, I’m not sure if you’re entitled to that since I don’t know the full extent of the situation, or if there was a debt or lease violation involved.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Chloe

    I just received a check via mail from my previous landlord for a partial security deposit. They included a statement with a list of charges all priced at $0 except a “Rekey locks” fee $15 and down at the bottom of statement below Subtotal they included an “Inspection fee” $50. I have a couple of issues with this statement #1 being I thought a security deposit was to be used for any charges or damages extra maintenance that may have occurred to the unit during my stay NOT to rekey locks. Besides when I moved in the locks were not rekeyed for me. I noticed it but didnt ask about it. 2. Since when do landlords charge to do move-out inspections. The inspection fee is absurd can they legally chg me? What can I do to get my full deposit back?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Chloe,

      Generally, a re-keying is at the landlord’s expense, unless the tenant loses a key, or makes unauthorized copies.

      Also, I’ve never heard of a landlord charging for a move-out inspection. Generally, a landlord can only charge fees for things if they are documented in the lease. Does your lease mention this fee?

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Mark

    Hey, I lived (past tense) in Troy, Al for a number of years in an apartment. When I moved in, the place was in bad condition, and we noted everything we could. Every year the complex’s empty units were painted-refloored, and re-furnished. When we moved out, we cleaned very well, patched the dry wall, bought replacement blinds, replaced all lightbulbs (even for fixtures with faulty wiring), and provided the paint we used to re-paint the bedrooms (there was a black tar on the walls when we moved in). It was in way better condition than when we moved in, now our former landlord has mailed us an itemization and demand for more money to replace furniture, paint, appliances, etc. additionally, it was mailed out over 70 days late. what can i do?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mark,

      If I were in your shoes, I’d tell the landlord that “I think the charges are false and I have pictures to prove it.”

      I would strongly suggest that he re-itemize everything and send me a bill for anything that was excessive damage beyond normal wear and tear, and I’ll consider it.

      If he continued to push the items, I’d simply take him to small claims court and when I win, I’d make him pay my legal bills too.

      Just a thought – not legal advice. That’s what I would do.

  • ebony

    I gave my landlord a 7 day notice to fix the issues in my apartment. The reason it’s 7 because the new landlord came in 7 days into my 14 days notice. So he was given 7 days, so that he has a total of 14 days to fix my ceiling in my kids room. The utility closet that house the a/c and water heater has water damage and mold I have been putting in work orders since June what else can I do

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ebony,

      The proper notice for a violation is 10 days, as stated in the statutes above. I’m not sure if 7 days would hold up.

      Did your landlord make the fixes? Please note that he only has to fix things that cause habitability issues or reduction of services.

  • Tim

    So landlord is tryibg to evict on a year lease. He have no reason and we have never been late on rent. The only thing that has happened was a false drug charge. Is he within his rights ir do I lawyer uo?

  • Mike Jeanette

    I had a lady sign a lease. She was waiting for her check to clear the bank, to pay rent and security. She said 2 days later that she was still waiting and wanted to know if she could stay there until check cleared. I let her. 8 DAYS LATER I STILL GET THE RUN AROUND. IS SHE LEGALLY A TENENANT OR CAN I HAVE HER REMOVED ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mike,

      Do you have a signed lease? If so, then she’s a tenant – even if she’s a scammer. The worst case scenario is that you have to file an eviction case against her. I’d do so immediately if I were you.

  • Theresa M

    Have a renter in a home and deadline to move out was October 31, 2015….they still has a few items in the house, a small trailer in the yard and have not returned the keys yet. Can I charge them a full months rent or do I just pro-rate the rent for the number of days over until they are completely out and return the keys.
    Thank you

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Theresa,

      It all depends on your ability to re-rent. Personally I don’t consider a place abandoned until their stuff is out, so I’m counting up the rent while they take their sweet time. But if they turned in the keys, and still let their stuff there, then it’s obviously abandoned personal property which you would need to handled appropriately according to your state laws. Most of the time, you can move it somewhere safe, while you send notice to them.

      Good luck. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Dave

    Hi Lucas,
    We moved out of a rental house and about 50 days later, I received a letter stating there were damages that exceeded the worth of the security deposit. The damages were listed in very generic terms, such as “Carpet – $2500 , Yard – $150…”. I asked if they could send me some better explanation of what was done and why it was done, but they refused and sent my account to collections.
    How vague can a landlord be in the explanation of charges? It seems very suspicious to me that they wouldn’t discuss the charges and even more so that they seemed to hurry and turn me over to a collection company when I started to question the charges.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dave

      It’s my understanding that they only need to itemize it, but if you want to force them to elaborate, you’ll have to get a judge to order them to do so. Plus, they exceeded the # of days to deliver the deposit explaination. While I don’t know what you should do legally, I can tell you that if I were in your shoes, I’d take the landlord to small claims court. But please talk to a lawyer, which I am not.

  • DONNA

    I have been living in the same house for 3 years in Montgomery. I have had issues with getting the leasing company to make repairs, it started with burst pipes, which took 3 days to repair, I had no water, Then a flooded basement, then the shower basically caved in, took them nearly a month to fix that, then we had wiring issues over 4 months to fix that issue then we had mold in the bathroom which has no vent, it took them two weeks to come out, they didn’t repair it, they painted over it, now the mold is back and twice as bad, we sent them 2 notices over month ago, when they came out to fix yet another leak I showed them the mold. It’s not fixed yet. What should I do? I have health problems and wake up every day wheezing and stuffed up.

  • Sam

    Hi, my family and I have been living in our home for around 8 months. Weve always made sure our rent was dated for the 10th, just as our lease stated. Every month around the 6th or 7th, my landlord would text me and remind me it was due. I am no child and I dont need a reminder. This month, I seen I was going to be 5 days past due and I text her on the 7th and let her know it would be sent the 15th. I get a nasty text message from her on the 13th about it. And bc I didnt reply imm, she was sending me nasty text saying that “its only 5 hours from where I am in St Aug Fl to you in Dothan by car, AND I HAVE A CAR!!”. The nasty mess cont on Sat and even 1 this am b4 I woke up, she is harrassin me, what can i do??

  • Stacie

    I dont know what to do…we (my husband, 14 y/o daughter and I) are currently living in a home, where we only have verbal agreement–no written lease. The agreement is: we do not pay rent, but pay ALL bills. We buy all food, do all the cooking & cleaning. The guy who owns the home also lives here…and has to pay NOTHING, under this agreement. He has invited 3 homeless, “travelers” to stay here in the house with us, against our wishes. These people are complete strangers (he met one of them when he picked her up when she was hitchhiking). When we asked them to leave, tables turned and WE were asked to leave. Until we can find somewhere to move…I am concerned about 3 strangers living in our home–esp with my child here. WHAT DO I DO???

  • Lauren Stiles

    I am in a one year lease in an apartment and I recently got a notice about my renewal for the next year. The notice says that I have to inform them if I will be renewing or moving by the 27th of January but my lease doesn’t end until July 20th. My question is, are they allowed to make me make a decision about that this early? I am not sure yet about what I will be doing and don’t feel that I should have to give them a decision yet and I was under the impression I had 60 or 90 days to let them know before I decide to move or not.

  • Kirsten

    I got renters in my house for 27 month. They are moving out. I had already problems with them not letting me in the house to show it to a prospective buyer and to get an estimate about the damage even though I gave them a 24 hour notice as stated in the lease. Middle of last year in September when I was showing the house I saw already a lot of damage: Big places where the wood flooring was worked down to the raw wood due to a big dog and a rolling chair, many holes in walls, stained washbasins and bathtub etc. The lease stated that they can only have 2 nails per wall. They told me they would patch the places but not paint the wall because everything it is normal wear and tear. The house was total updated before they moved in.

    • Kirsten

      I got renters in my house for 27 month. They are moving out. I had already problems with them not letting me in the house to show it to a prospective buyer and to get an estimate about the damage even though I gave them a 24 hour notice as stated in the lease. Middle of last year in September when I was showing the house I saw already a lot of damage: Big places where the wood flooring was worked down to the raw wood due to a big dog and a rolling chair, many holes in walls, stained washbasins and bathtub etc. The lease stated that they can only have 2 nails per wall. They told me they would patch the places but not paint the wall because everything it is normal wear and tear. The house was total updated before they moved in.

  • Anna

    My son bought a house in August, in October he had a friend that needed a place to stay. This person is still there and has paid no rent or utility bills. My son wants them gone, do we to serve eviction papers to remove a house guest.

  • Molly

    Hello,

    We have a verbal agreement with our landlord. Weoved in in December and agreed my husband would do work on the property in exchange for rent. We have done all the work requested. Last Sunday ou landlord texted us saying the following morning (Monday) someone was coming to refinish the hardwood floors. He asked if we had somewhere to stay for a few days while the work was being done. We left Sunday night and on Wednesday night sent him a text asking when we could go home. He replied he was going to go check on the floors that night. The next day (Thursday) he called and told us he was selling the house and not to bother coming back. The locks and alarm code have been changed. What can we do? We have been locked out for 4 days

  • Angela

    I have a question . I moved into this house in December I had been going back and forth with mgmt since October of 2015, they finally told me the house had been inspected and was ready to move in, so I paid the rent of 800.00 and moved in Dec 1 2015. I have been trying to get utilities in my name and I found out at the Power Company here in Alabama the home had to have an Inspection, well the town that I have to get my power on in said the house never has been inspected and so they could not turn the power on in my name , the inspector came out to look at the home and said this is the worst mess he has seen in 6 years of him being an inspector. He wrote up several violation, landlord taking his time, Im still paying rent what can I do

  • Barry

    We just received our lease agreement for a beautiful home we are about to rent. It is to be month to month as the owner is trying to sell. They know we have dogs (as they do). There is also an apartment above the garage. (I’ve never seen).

    Well, what we received was an apartment rental agreement.

    Q: does signing an apartment agreement when actually renting a home affect either us or the landlord?

    Can they claim we are actually only renting the apartment over the garage instead of the half a million dollar home we are renting?

  • Javetta

    I am the owner of 2 trailer parks. Can I give a tenant or prospective tenant a drug test if they consent? And can they be used for eviction or denial to rent? I am in Alabama

  • Janna

    My daughter rented a historical register house; paid her rent for a year in advance. Since living there she has been terribly sick; sinus and allergy problems; respiratory problems. She has discovered that there is severe mold in the house; maintenance workers have been out and found standing water all under the house; plumber found mold behind commode in her bathroom; mold in the ceiling of her bedroom. She wants to get out of her lease agreement; get her balance of money back; and move out of the house. Her health continues to get worse. She cannot get landlord to take any responsibility for this mess she has found herself in. What advice can you give? Thank you for your help.

  • Sharee

    The landlord of a home I lived in added a room to make it a 3BR (before I moved in). It is R2 Zoned as single-family. If the additional room doesn’t meet the requirements to be considered as a 3BR, does that make the home illegal to be rented as a 3BR?

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