Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
As a tenant, you have certain obligations you need to abide by as per the lease agreement or the Alabama landlord-tenant act. The following are examples of common responsibilities tenants have in the state of Alabama.
- Paying rent on time.
- Caring for the property and keeping it free from hazards.
- Keeping the property clean and sanitary.
- Not causing disturbance to other tenants.
- Making small repairs.
You may, however, find yourself to have inadvertently or advertently gone against such rules and your landlord may choose to evict you from your rented premises. Should that become the case, the following are a couple of defenses you could provide to fight off an eviction in Alabama.
1. Correct the violation.
This is inarguably the best way to fight off an eviction. Except for violations that can’t be ‘cured’, in all other instances, you’ll have the chance to correct a violation.
For nonpayment of rent, you’ll have 7 days to pay the rent due. For curable violations, such as parking in an unauthorized area or having an unauthorized pet, you’ll have 7 days to correct the violation.
2. You were discriminated against on the basis of a protected class.
Is the eviction discriminatory in nature? If so, you could be able to fight it off by proving that the landlord wants to evict you on the basis of your race, color, nationality, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants on the basis of such classes.
3. Your landlord tried to evict you illegally.
The only way a landlord can evict a tenant in the state of Alabama is through the judicial eviction process. All other methods will fail! The following are examples of illegal eviction processes a landlord may try to use to remove you.
- Shutting down your utilities.
- Locking you out from your rented premises.
- Removing your belongings from your rented premsies.
These types of evictions are referred to as “self-help” evictions and are illegal in all the fifty U.S states.
4. The eviction was in retaliation to exercising your legal rights.
As a tenant, you obtain certain inherent legal rights after signing the lease agreement. You have a right to:
- Complain to a local government agency about unhealthy, unsafe, or illegal living conditions.
- Exercise your First Amendment rights to join or form a tenants’ union to fight for your rights.
- Sue your landlord for damages resulting in their failure to discharge their responsibilities properly. Such as, to maintain the unit to the acceptable standards even after repeated requests to have them do so.
In response to exercising any of these rights, your landlord may respond by retaliating against you. The following are examples of common retaliatory acts.
- Raising your rent amount.
- Refusing or failing to acknowledge a rent payment.
- Terminating your lease agreement.
- Refusing to renew your lease.
- Starting an eviction lawsuit against you or exaggerating a violation.
- Removing access to utilities that you previously enjoyed and are promised in the lease agreement.
It’d be illegal for your Alabama landlord to engage in such retaliatory acts.
5. You did not violate any terms as alleged.
You may also be able to fight an eviction in Alabama if you’re able to prove that you did not violate any terms.
For example, in the case of nonpayment of rent, present the receipts as proof of payment within the specific period.
6. The landlord failed to maintain the unit to the required standards.
Landlords have a duty to maintain their rental premises to the required habitability standards. The warranty of habitability also requires that they respond to maintenance requests within a reasonable period of time.
In Alabama, landlords must specifically respond to issues within a 14 day period. If they don’t, you may be able to exercise several legal options. Including the following:
- Suing your landlord for any damages that you may have incurred as a result of their failure to maintain your rented premises.
- Reporting your landlord to a relevant government agency for action.
Your landlord cannot then retaliate against you for exercising such legal options by trying to evict you.
7. The eviction notice contained substantial errors.
An eviction notice must contain certain information in order for it to be valid. For example, it must, among other things, state the effective date of eviction, reason for the eviction, and what a tenant must do to avoid the eviction.
If the notice fails to mention any of these things, you may be able to delay the eviction for some time. Please note, however, that this wont’s stop the eviction. It’ll only serve to delay it until the landlord has corrected the errors.
8. Appealing the eviction against an unsuccessful judgment.
After an unsuccessful judgment, the court will issue the landlord with a Writ of Execution. This will be the final notice for you to leave. Fortunately, you’d have the option to appeal against the court’s decision.
Alabama law allows either party to request a 15 day continuance for “good cause.” However, the law doesn’t specifically state when the hearing date will be scheduled. Regardless, though, a continuance will add 15 days, and an appeal could add an extra 67 days to the eviction process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the eviction process take in Alabama?
The process could take anywhere between a few weeks to several months depending on a variety of factors. For example, whether or not there is an appeal.
How long do you have to move out after an eviction notice in Alabama?
The eviction notice will typically state when you’re supposed to move out. For example, in the case of nonpayment of rent, you’ll have 7 days to either pay the rent due or move out. The same notice period applies for lease violations.
If you don’t move out within the notice period, the landlord may proceed with the eviction by filing a summons and complaint in court.
How long does an eviction stay on your record in Alabama?
Generally speaking, expect the report of your eviction to remain as part of your rental history for a period of 7 years. To get an eviction off your record, you may need to file a form with the court. You can do this either in person, via mail, or by filling out a form online.
You’ll then need to serve the landlord with a copy of the filing. The landlord will have a maximum of 30 days to object the expunging of your record.
What rights do tenants in Alabama have?
Once you sign the lease agreement, you obtain certain inherent rights as per the statewide landlord-tenant act. Here is a basic overview of the renters rights in Alabama.
Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.
Hi, I’m Kelvin Nielsen, an experienced landlord and accomplished real estate lawyer. My focus is on answering your questions about renting in the hopes of making your life as a renter or a landlord a bit easier.