Alabama landlords must follow Alabama law if they want to evict their tenants. It is illegal for an Alabama landlord to force a tenant out by changing the locks or turning off the utilities. A landlord-tenant law effective starting January 1, 2007 changed many of the steps landlords must follow to evict their tenants. This article is up-to-date with the new law.
Available Alabama Termination Notices
Alabama landlords must give tenants notice that their lease is being terminated before they file an eviction action. The notice that must be given depends on the reason the landlord is ending the tenancy.
Alabama requires the following types of written termination notices:
Notice to pay rent: This is a 7-day notice. If the rent is unpaid when due, the landlord can give the tenant this notice, and if the tenant does not pay within 7 days of receiving the notice, the landlord can file an eviction suit (Alabama Code sec. 35-9A-421(b)).
Notice to remedy or quit: This is a 14-day notice. If the tenant has breached the lease in any way besides failure to pay rent, the landlord can give this notice. The landlord must allow the tenant 14 days to cure the breach, and if the tenant does not, the landlord may file an eviction suit (Alabama Code sec. 35-9A-421(a)).
Evictions in Alabama are handled by the District and the Circuit courts. Find your local court at the Alabama courts website. Small claims forms are available on the website as well. While it may seem easy to magically evict your tenant by way of filing a court form, reality may not go as planned. If you're having problems, or if at any point you're unsure of the termination and/or eviction process, you can consult an experienced Alabama landlord tenant attorney. When doing so, be sure to refer to Questions to Ask Your Alabama Evictions Lawyer below.
Self-Help Evictions in Alabama
Alabama landlords may not resort to self-help to evict their tenants. They must go through the Alabama eviction process required by Alabama law. If a landlord tries to force out a tenant without following Alabama law, the tenant may be entitled under Alabama Code sec. 35-9A-407 to:
- Actual damages or three months rent, whichever is greater;
- Injunctive relief; and
- Attorney's fees.
Questions to Ask Your Alabama Evictions Lawyer
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?