Every state in the US has a separate code of rules and regulations that govern its residents. In the state of Alabama, the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act define the rules that landlords and tenants have to follow. This Act talks about what clauses and terms are allowed under rental agreements, what landlords must do for their tenants, and vice versa. It also outlines what one can do if the other party does not fulfill their obligations. This Act covers all residential buildings, including, but not limited to, houses, apartments, and condominiums. The Act does not cover institutional residences such as nursing homes.
What are your rights as a renter and a tenant in Alabama?##
For a long time in American history, there was no specific code protecting the rights of tenants in Alabama. However, this changed in 2007, when the Alabama Landlord-Tenant Law was established. As a tenant in Alabama, there are certain things you are allowed to do, and certain things you are not allowed to do. If you still do the things you are not allowed to do, you may be eligible to face eviction and your landlord can terminate your lease agreement. We discuss this in detail below.
As a tenant in Alabama, you have the right to equal opportunities for housing, and freedom from any kind of discrimination, whether based on race, color, religious beliefs, age, sexual orientation, and disability. The Federal Fair Housing Act protects tenants in Alabama from housing opportunity discrimination.
Rental lease agreements in Alabama are usually made out for one to five years, or as desired by the parties involved. HomeKasa provides rental lease agreements for all States free of cost in our property management software. If you are using your own lease agreement, you can still store these documents digitally in one place on HomeKasa.
Tenants are not required by law to buy renters insurance in Alabama, however, your landlord may still require you to. You will have to check with them about this. Renters insurance covers damages to your belongings, normally these are not covered by your landlord's homeowners insurance.
- The law in Alabama makes it compulsory for your landlord to give you at least 30 days of notice (or the amount of time stated in your lease agreement) before raising the rent.
- If a tenant complains about an issue they are having, the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent solely based on the fact that they complained, which could be classified as a retaliatory increase in rent.
Condition of the property##
- In Alabama, the law requires the unit being rented out to be in proper condition. This means no holes in the ceilings, leaky water pipes, windows and doors that cannot be properly sealed, a proper drainage system that works, and appliances that are not just kept for show.
- An option will be given to the tenant, whether they want to pay for the utilities or the landlord should pay for them. This will have to be specified in the lease beforehand, so there is no confusion. Utilities include electricity, hot and cold water, and gas. If it is agreed that the tenant is to pay for the utilities, the landlord cannot be held responsible by the utility provider for any unpaid utility bills.
- Have a stable supply of hot and cold water, as well as electricity and gas. The landlord is required by law to pay for the electricity, plumbing, garbage pick-up, sewage, and sanitation. However, this only applies to those living in single and multi-family properties, not condos or mobile homes.
- Landlords are also not obligated to deal with bed bug infestations. This must be done by the tenant.
- Note that you can track your expenses with HomeKasa's free property management software and store receipts.
- Some states in America allow the tenant to withhold rent till all repairs are done to the rental unit. However, [Alabama][/resources/us/alabama] is not one of those states. It requires tenants to pay rent on time. But, the law does allow tenants to write up a claim for the repairs to be done within 14 days, or the lease can be terminated. Tenants should write out their requests and send this as a letter to the landlord, giving the landlord 2 weeks to make the repairs. If they are not done, the tenant can move out and without any responsibility of paying future rent. If the tenant does not want to move out, they can sue the landlord for damages. The amount the tenant receives in the form of damages will be decided by a judge.
- To avoid any confusion on who said what, we recommend that you complete a move-in checklist. HomeKasa offers a free checklist where you can store photos and documents. Both the landlord and the tenant can access these anytime from anywhere.
Breaking the lease##
- If you are breaking the lease to serve in the military, then you do not owe any rent to the landlord. You must provide written notice to the landlord 30 days in advance of the next rent due.
- If the landlord violated your rights as discussed below, then you'll be able to terminate the lease agreement.
- Otherwise, in the state of Alabama, the tenant is responsible for the remainder of the rent if they choose to break the lease for personal reasons. However, the landlord is required to make a reasonable effort to rent the place. If they are successful, then the renter doesn't have to pay the rent for the rest of the lease term.
- Before you, as a tenant, move out, there is no walk-through inspection by the landlord necessary, according to the law in Alabama. This is usually done by landlords to check up on the condition of the unit before you move out.
- After you move out of the rented property, you are eligible to collect your security deposit back from your landlord. If they fail to give this back to you within 60 days, they will have to (by law) pay you twice the original amount.
- Claims that are valued up to $6,000 may be litigated in the small claims court. If your rental lease with your landlord is oral or written, it will, in most cases, have a 6-year statute of limitations.
- By using HomeKasa's free moving checklist, you can reduce the disagreements on the condition of the property before and after your occupancy.
What are your responsibilities as a tenant?##
The law requires tenants to follow a set of rules and regulations so that the property owned by someone else is not abused or mishandled.
- Tenants are required to pay the agreed-upon rent on time and in full. They cannot withhold the rent even if the landlord is not providing something they should be (by law). The Act allows the landlord to terminate the rental agreement if the rent is not paid after 7 days of its due date.
- You can schedule reminders for rent due and other bills on HomeKasa's property management platform so that you don't miss anything and protect your credit score. The software is free and easy to use.
- Tenants are required by law to follow the building's codes, for example, if pets are not allowed in the building, tenants will be required to follow that rule and keep the pet outside (if allowed) or not keep a pet at all.
- The premises need to be kept as clean as possible. If it is not, and the landlord feels there is a threat to health and safety, you are eligible to receive a written notice of the termination of your rental lease. Garbage and other rubbish need to be disposed of safely. You, as a tenant, also need to make sure your rental property is kept safe. An example of this is not to keep flammable objects inside the house.
- Plumbing fixtures need to be kept clear.
- Use the property, the fixtures, and appliances that come along with it properly and responsibly. These include any heating or air conditioning systems and plumbing, electrical and sanitary systems. It is your responsibility as a tenant to make sure none of these are damaged by you or a guest deliberately or negligently.
- Tenants are required to keep peace between them and other tenants or neighbors, by not disturbing them with, for example, loud music or noise at unreasonable times.
- The law also requires tenants to allow reasonable access to landlords to inspect the rental space and the condition it is in, or have access to the property to make necessary repairs.
- If the landlord states so in the lease, the tenant must notify the landlord if he/she will be absent from the premises for longer than 14 days.
More information on tenant obligations##
To find out more on what you are required to do as a tenant or landlord, you can check Alabama's Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Section 35-9A-301-304, Section 35-9A-421(d), and Section 35-9A-422.
What are your rights as a landlord?##
- If your tenant has not paid their rent on time, you are required by law to give them 7 days after the due date to pay you in full. If they are unable to do so, you may send them a written notice of termination of the rental lease for nonpayment. If you have rented out a unit to a couple of people, and one of them refuses to pay the rent, you are well within your rights as a landlord to send a letter of eviction to the non-paying tenant.
- You can automatically remind your tenant of rent due each month with the schedule reminders option on HomeKasa. You can also track rent collection and send past due rent notices from HomeKasa free property management platform.
If the rules set out in the lease are not followed, or the building/area is not kept clean and there is a threat to health and safety, you can send your tenant a written notice to terminate the rental lease. This written notice must fully specify the reasons for termination. You can also send out a warning letter to your tenant, to rectify their actions in 14 days. If unresolved, the lease will be terminated on the date specified in the written notice. We have ready-made, easy to use letter templates for your benefit on HomeKasa.
If a tenant does not comply with the rules set out in the rental lease, the landlord is allowed to send them a written notice requesting them to fix their behavior or whatever damage they have caused. Tenants have 14 days to do this. If they do not, landlords can file a “7 Day Additional Quit Notice”, and then file for eviction of the tenant. Illegal and criminal acts also serve as a reason for eviction. HomeKasa offers these notice templates for free.
- The law allows landlords to keep a check on the rented space. This means landlords are allowed to enter the premises to inspect the condition of the building or the appliances in it, however, not at unreasonable times.
- The landlord must not abuse his/her power i.e. ability to access the premises to disturb or harass the tenant. If they are to enter the premises, the tenant must be provided with at least two days' notice prior, other than in cases of emergencies. The landlord also must enter the property at a reasonable time. For your convenience, HomeKasa has a template for notice to enter.
Landlords can also enforce a no smoking indoors policy, but this has to be written out in the rental lease agreement. Whether they want to enforce this or not is up to the landlord.
Your responsibilities as a landlord##
- Landlords are allowed to collect a security deposit from tenants before they move in. In Alabama, the law limits the landlord to only charge an amount for the security deposit that is not more than one month's rent plus any added fee that is charged for pets, repairs, or increased liability.
- If there is any accrued rent (rent of past months that has not yet been paid by the tenant to the landlord), it may be paid off by the security deposit, but only at the time of termination of the lease.
Landlords are required to maintain electrical, plumbing, ventilating, and air conditioning systems so that they are in good condition and work safely. Such things can quickly add up. Many of these expenses are tax-deductible. You can track your expenses, contractors, and warranties with HomeKasa's free property management platform.
Landlords can enforce rules and regulations upon the tenant if those were in the initial lease, and only if they are enforceable upon all tenants.
Rent grace period##
Many states allow for a grace period in regards to paying rent. A grace period allows tenants a few days extra to pay their rent. For example, if rent is due on the first of every month, the grace period will allow them to pay perhaps till the 5th of that particular month. However, the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act does not have any specific rules of grace periods. So, if you plan on allowing a grace period to your tenants, you must include it in your lease agreement. If this is not in the lease agreement and the tenant is late on paying the rent, they must face a late fees penalty.
- The Alabama statute does not have any specific rules for late fees either. So, if you plan on charging your tenants a late fee for not paying rent on time, you must also include this in your lease agreement with the tenant.
- It is well within your rights as a landlord to send a written notice of eviction in the case that your tenant does not pay their rent fees. You may then terminate the agreement.
- HomeKasa makes it very easy to send reminders of rent due so that your tenants don't forget a payment. When the rent is past due, you can use HomeKasa to send a past-due reminder notice.
Pests and Chemicals##
- Landlords are not legally required to control pests in the unit rented unless it is included in the rental lease.
- If the rental property has been built before 1878, the landlord will be required to disclose the concentration of lead in the paint on the walls of the house. HomeKasa has a template where you can select details on the presence of the lead in your property to create a letter for disclosure.
The law in Alabama differs from other states a lot and is also open to interpretation. Make sure you know your rights and responsibilities before entering into any kind of agreement so that you can avoid any problems with the law. We've also put together a list of useful resources for Alabama including local associations.
HomeKasa aspires to simplify your life as both a renter and a landlord. You can schedule reminders, track expenses, use communication templates, etc., all from one place. HomeKasa offers the best property management platform in the industry and it's free. Get started now.