Alabama Eviction Law

Posted by Christopher Berkompas in Alabama

Note: I am not a lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice.

What circumstances qualify a legal cause for an eviction?

The most common cases which justify a suit for eviction include the following behavior by the tenant:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Willful destruction or damage to the property
  • Violation of the terms of the lease, where the lease states that such a violation would be a cause for eviction.

If the tenant does any of these things, the landlord may be justified in bringing an eviction suit against them.

How does the eviction process work?

A landlord in Alabama may choose not to renew a lease for no reason whatsoever.  He must give notice of the termination at least one rental period in advance, but he does not have to give any justification for doing so.  Therefore, the following rules apply to situations where the landlord seeks to remove the tenant in a period shorter than the lease term.

In order to evict a tenant, the landlord may bring suit in either civil or criminal court.  In civil court, the action is called an "unlawful detainer" lawsuit.  In this case, prior to bringing suit, the landlord has to give the tenant at least three (3) days notice to vacate or be evicted.  If the tenant does not leave, the landlord will then file a complaint with the court, and the tenant will be summoned to a hearing.  The tenant will lose by default if he does not appear or answer the complaint.

After the hearing, the court will make its decision.  If in favor of the tenant, he will be able to remain on the property for at least the remainder of the lease term.  If the landlord wins, the tenant will be ordered to leave, and if he does not do so, the local sheriff will force him to do so.

Bringing the suit in criminal court is only slightly different.  In that situation, the landlord must give ten (10) days notice, and the tenant may be liable for fines for every day he remains on the property after he is ordered to leave.


If the cause for eviction can be resolved by making repairs or paying damages is the landlord required to give the tenant a certain period of time to fix the problem?

It is in the landlord's interest to give the tenant as much time as possible to remedy the problem.  However, after winning an eviction case, a landlord has no obligation to allow the tenant to remain, even if the tenant offers restitution.

Can a landlord evict a tenant for having a pet?

Yes, if keeping one was in violation of the lease, and the lease stated that doing so could be a cause for eviction of the tenant.

What happens after a tenant contests and wins and eviction case in court?

As noted above, he will be able to remain on the property for the remainder of the lease term.  The landlord could still resort to the "no cause" form of termination, where he refuses to renew the lease, and gives the tenant notice one lease period in advance.

Can a tenant be evicted if the landlord wants to use the unit himself?

Not prior to the end and failure to renew a lease.  A tenant rightfully in the property cannot be evicted prior to the end of the lease, except for some cause.  The landlord's personal interests will not be sufficient; the tenant must do something to justify the court in removing him before the time for the lease has run.

Is it legal for a landlord to demand unpaid rent for the remainder of the lease term?

No.  The tenant will only owe the landlord for the amount of time he has spent on the property, not the remainder of time in the lease after he is evicted.


State of Alabama Eviction Statutes

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