Tenants have an obligation to abide by all the terms of the lease agreement after signing it. Sadly, this does not always happen. Your Alabama tenant could stop their rent payments, cause negligent property damage, or even engage in illegal activity.
In those such cases, Alabama laws would allow you to evict a tenant. But that would not mean locking out the tenant, removing their belongings, or shutting down their utilities. You need to follow the process as laid out through the Alabama laws.
If you’re looking to evict a tenant who has broken their lease, or simply want to know more on the process, here’s a quick guide:
The notice is what starts an eviction process in the state of Alabama. But the specific notice you serve depends on the violation the tenant has committed. The following are the legitimate reasons to evict a tenant and the corresponding notice you must serve.
Nonpayment of Rent
This is a common reason for eviction in Alabama. To begin the eviction process for this reason, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Pay. This will give the tenant 7 business days to either pay the rent due or move out. If the tenant doesn’t take either option, you can move to court and proceed with the eviction.
A tenant has the responsibility of abiding by the terms of the lease agreement after signing it. If they don’t, you can provide them with a 7-Day Notice to Comply in order to begin the eviction process.
The notice gives them an opportunity to cure the violation before they can be evicted. Lease violations that fall under this category include excessive property damage and having an unauthorized pet.
If the tenant corrects their violation, then you must stop the eviction proceedings. However, if they don’t, you may proceed with the eviction process after the 7 days are over. Be mindful of the security deposit in this circumstance.
Misleading Information on the Rental Agreement
Alabama eviction laws also allow landlords to evict a tenant for including false or misleading information on their rental applications - be wary of adhering to the Fair Housing Act in this case. You must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit prior to moving to court.
End of Lease
You can also evict a tenant who overstays after their lease is over. Before evicting them, you must serve them a notice depending on the tenancy type in operation. If they pay rent on a monthly basis, you must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
But if they pay rent on a weekly basis, you must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant remains in the property after the 7 or 30 days are over, you can proceed with the eviction.
Material Health or Safety Violation
Your tenant has a responsibility to abide by the health, safety, and building codes. If they violate them, you can begin the eviction proceedings by serving them a 7-Day Notice to Comply.
Before you can move to court to file an eviction action, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit. Illegal activity includes drug activity, illegal firearm activity, or criminal assault. In some scenarios, you won’t have an obligation to notify them first, before evicting them.
If the tenant continues to stay after expiry of the notice, you may proceed with the eviction process.
Summons & Complaint
The next step in the eviction process is to file a complaint in a relevant court and the filing fees vary depending on the county in which your property is located. A process server must serve the summons and complaint on the tenant at least 6 days before the hearing.
Answer is Filed
Once the tenant has received the summons and complaint, they will have the option to serve the court with an answer within 7 days. Basically, the answer is a document that allows a tenant to state the reasons why they shouldn’t be evicted.
Common defenses include:
- The eviction is retaliatory. For example, trying to evict the tenant because of complaint about a safety or health violation.
- The eviction process was illegal. You, for instance, tried to get the tenant to leave by shutting down utilities, removing their belongings, or locking them out.
- The eviction notice had errors. Alabama eviction laws require landlords to follow a strict process. For example, an eviction notice would become defective if it missed an essential information like the date the period must leave.
- The tenant complied with the eviction notice. For instance, paid the due rent within the notice period.
- The eviction is based solely on the tenant’s race, color, nationality, religion, or any other protected class. Discriminating a tenant against any of these things would be in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Alabama laws don’t specify when eviction hearings must be held. That said, they often take a priority over other civil type cases.
If the tenant filed an answer, the court would provide the tenant an opportunity to substantiate their claims. However, if they didn’t and failed to show up, the court may provide a default judgment in your favor.
But whether you win via ether a default judgment or a successful court ruling, the court will issue you a writ of execution. This will be the tenant’s final notice to leave. If they don’t, the sheriff will return 7 days later and forcefully evict them on your behalf.
Understanding the eviction laws in Alabama is important for any landlord hoping to operate a successful business there. If you have any further questions its best to contact an expert property management company like ourselves at the Level Property Management Group. Contact us today and we can get your property rent ready!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Laws change and this information may no longer be up to date. For expert legal help in this regard or any other aspect of property management, Level Property Management Group can help. Get in touch to learn more!