Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Kelvin Nielsen
Are you a landlord in Alabama and are looking to know what rights you enjoy under state law? If so, you’re at the right place!
Just like AL tenants enjoy certain rights under state law, Alabama landlords, too, have certain inherent rights as per the statewide Landlord-Tenant Act.
For example, as a landlord, you have a right to evict a tenant for violating the terms of the lease agreement. You also have the right to enter your tenant’s premises under certain circumstances.
Such rights are meant to help protect you and your rental investment. Whether you’re just getting started as a landlord or are simply refreshing your knowledge on the state law, the following is a basic overview of the rights landlords have in Alabama.
Landlord Rights in Alabama
Right #1: Right to require tenants to sign a lease agreement before moving in.
Most landlords in Alabama require their tenants to sign a lease prior to moving in. The lease basically stipulates the rules that the tenant must abide by during the entire term of the lease agreement.
Examples of basic rules that are contained in a typical lease agreement include the following.
- Rent-related rules. This includes the dollar amount of rent, when and where rent is to be paid, amount of grace period, and the amount of late fees (if any).
- Security deposit amount and other move-in costs.
- Tenant responsibility on repairs.
- Important policies, such as in regards to pets, smoking, or property alteration.
- Whether subletting is allowed or not.
A landlord also has a right to make changes to the terms laid out in the lease agreement. However, to change any of them, they must wait until the end of the term.
Right #2: Right to enter the tenant’s rented premises.
This is also another right that you have as a landlord in Alabama. You may want to enter your tenant’s rented premises to do things like:
- Inspect the rental unit.
- Under a court order.
- To show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, or lenders.
- In cases of an emergency.
- If you have reasons to believe the tenant has abandoned the rental unit.
- To respond to a repair or maintenance request.
Be that is it may, you have a responsibility to provide your tenant with a 2 days’ advance notice. In addition, you may only enter during normal business hours or as agreed by both you and your tenant.
Right #3: Right to charge whatever amount for rent.
Alabama doesn’t have a rent control law in place. As such, as a landlord, you may be able to charge your tenant whatever amount for rent. However, it’s important to charge tenants a reasonable amount so as to keep your rental property competitive.
In addition, you don’t have to provide your tenant any notice prior to raising the rent amount. There is also no law limiting how much late fees you can charge on late fees.
Right #4: Right to require a tenant to pay a security deposit prior to moving in.
Most landlords require tenants to pay a security deposit prior to moving in. And for good reason, a security deposit helps cushion a landlord against potential financial damage that a tenant may negligently cause.
There is a limit to how much landlords can charge as security deposit in Alabama, though. You must not ask for an amount exceeding the equivalent of one month’s rent.
You also have a right to make appropriate deductions from a tenant’s security deposit under certain situations. For instance, if the tenant moves out without clearing their rent payments or utility bills, or if they fail to repair damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
Right #5: Right to evict a tenant for violating the lease agreement.
Landlords in Alabama have a right to evict their tenants for failing to uphold the terms of the lease agreement. Common lease violations include the following.
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Violation of lease terms, such as causing negligent property damage or making an illegal property alteration.
- Providing falsified information on the rental application form.
- Failing to move out after the end of the lease agreement.
- Causing a violation that impacts their health or safety.
- Committing an illegal act on the premises.
Please note that it’s only a court order that can remove a tenant from their rental property. You cannot take matters onto your own hands and force the tenant to leave by removing their belongings or locking them out. Such actions are referred to as “self-help” eviction tactics and are illegal.
The only option you have to successfully remove a tenant is to follow the proper judicial eviction process. If you don’t, and make certain mistakes during the process, the tenant may be able to successfully fight, stop, or delay their eviction.
Right #6: Right to screen a tenant.
As a landlord in Alabama, you have the right to choose the kind of tenant you want to occupy your rental property. Most landlords usually screen their tenants on the basis of factors such as:
- How much income the tenant is making per month.
- The prospect’s credit rating.
- The prospect’s employment history.
- A prospect’s rental background.
And it’s only after a tenant has passed such qualifications that a landlord can allow them to rent their property. Please note, however, that you cannot reject a tenant on discriminatory reasons.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires landlords to treat tenants fairly regardless of their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, disability, or familial status.
Frequently Asked Questions: Landlord Rights in Alabama
Q: When Does a Guest Become a Tenant in Alabama?
A: Under Alabama law, a guest who hasn’t signed a lease with you nor had a verbal agreement with you to rent your property, can become a legal tenant after staying on your property for a certain period of time.
And once the guest becomes a tenant, they automatically acquire certain rights under Alabama Code Title 35 Chapter 9A.
Q: Is Alabama a landlord friendly state?
A: Yes. Generally speaking, Alabama is considered to be a landlord-friendly state. Here is a guide on everything that makes Alabama a haven for landlords.
Q: Can a landlord terminate a lease in Alabama?
A: Yes. A landlord may be able to terminate a lease under certain circumstances.
If the lease is periodic, then the landlord can terminate it by serving the tenant an appropriate notice. For instance, if a tenant is on a month-to-month lease, you may be able to end the tenancy by serving them a 30 days’ advance notice.
However, to terminate the tenancy of a tenant on a fixed-term lease, you must have a legally justified reason. Examples of legally justified reasons for terminating a fixed-term lease include failing to pay rent, violation of the lease, or intentionally providing misleading information on the rental application.
Disclaimer: 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.
I am a real estate attorney with over 11 years of experience in tenant eviction cases. My mission here at LTRC is to help answer your commonly asked questions on everything regarding real estate laws, especially on eviction matters.
I’m a member of the following professional organizations: Attorneys’ Real Estate Councils of Florida (ARECs), Florida Bar Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section, American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), and the Florida Association of Community Managers (FACM).