What Is the Eviction Process in Alabama?
If a tenant violates a rental agreement, then the eviction process in Alabama can be started by the landlord. How that process plays out depends on the type of violation that occurs. Sometimes landlords are encouraged to take “self-help” measures to encourage a problematic tenant to move out, but changing locks in a rental unit, having utilities shut off, or removing a tenant's personal belongings are all considered illegal acts in Alabama. Only these specific steps will help a landlord be able to eventually get rid of a tenant that is not following a rental agreement.
The 7 Day Notice in Alabama
When a tenant fails to pay their rent on time, then the 7 day notice may be given to them by landlords in Alabama. This notice applies to nonpayment of rent only. It may also be referred to as the 7 Day Notice to Cure. All rent that is past due may be included in this notice with a demand to pay. Tenants that are unable to pay off the full amount of the past due within 7 days may then progress toward the next step of eviction. Landlords that accept a partial rental payment after delivering a 7 day notice will invalidate their notice. If the full payment cannot be made by the end of the 7 day period, not accepting the partial payment allows the landlord to proceed with an eviction. Partial payment acceptance may extend the eviction process by up to 30 days.
The 14 Day Notice in Alabama
If there are any other rental agreement violations that occur in a rental unit in Alabama, then landlords are allowed to deliver a 14 day notice to resolve the situation which has caused the lease violation. If the violation can be eliminated, then the rental agreement will continue on. Otherwise the landlord can then proceed with the next step of the eviction process. Any action by the tenant that does not comply with a rental agreement that is considered valid by the state qualifies as a potential violation that can create the 14 day notice. This may include the following common actions, but should not be considered a comprehensive list.
- Illegal activities that include the possession, distribution, or manufacturing of illicit drugs.
- Threatening other tenants in such a way that people feel unsafe around the individual in question.
- Not disposing of garbage properly, either inside or outside of the home.
The 30 Day Notice in Alabama
This eviction notice is only given when a month-to-month lease will expire. Landlords are not obligated to provide an extension to a lease after it expires in Alabama, so the last date on a rental agreement is considered the termination date. If the lease renews monthly, however, the 30 day notice in Alabama is required. Accepting a rental payment after delivering a 30 day notice to a tenant will likely invalidate the notice. All notices given to a tenant should be served personally or by a process server. Attaching the notice to the door of a rental property is only considered valid if all contact attempts have failed. The notice must be signed by the landlord, specify the violation completely, and document the date of the deadline.
Filing For an Unlawful Detainer
If the conditions of a notice are not met, then landlords may file for an unlawful detainer hearing. This is heard before an Alabama judge and the landlord must prove that they followed the above steps for giving notice properly. Tenants are given a 14 day period before the hearing to provide a defense for nonpayment or 7 days to respond for other violations. A failure to respond creates a default judgment. Otherwise a judge will hear both sides during the scheduled hearing. A judgment may be issued that includes monetary damages. Before the tenant can be physically evicted, however, a 7 day waiting period for an appeal must be allowed. Once the appeal window has passed, a Writ of Possession can be requested. This allows a designated law enforcement official to physically remove individuals on the property if necessary. Landlords must hold onto any possessions for 14 days and then they can be disposed of at their discretion. Any failure to follow the process set forth by Alabama for landlords may result in the eviction process being invalidated, forcing the landlord to begin again from the very beginning. Document everything, include these steps, and you'll be well on your way to following the eviction process in Alabama.
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