Eviction Process in Alabama

by Fraser Sherman ; Updated July 27, 2017

When an Alabama landlord wants a tenant to leave, he must first give notice. Depending on the circumstances, the notice may be anywhere from a week to 30 days. The amount of notice depends on the landlord's reason for asking the tenant to leave. After the notice period expires, the landlord may begin the eviction.

Expired Leases

A tenant has no right to stay put when her lease is up. The Landlord Guidance website says a tenant usually gets 30 days' advance notice in Alabama if the landlord doesn't want to renew the lease. A month-to-month rental agreement also requires 30 days' advance warning that the agreement won't be extended.

Unpaid Rent

The landlord can use a cure notice when rent is past due, giving the tenant seven days to pay up or leave. If the tenant pays before the deadline, the landlord can't evict.

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Other Broken Lease Terms

If a tenant breaks the lease in some other way or threatens the health and safety of others, Alabama law says she gets a 14-day notice, according to Landlord Guidance. Similar to catching up with the rent, she gets to stay if she can fix the problem within those two weeks. Standard issues that result in a 14-day notice include:

  • Unauthorized persons living in the rental
  • Keeping pets in a no-pets apartment.
  • Playing loud music at all hours
  • Dealing drugs on the premises
  • Threatening other tenants

The notice must be in writing, not just a spoken warning. It has to give the name of the tenant and the landlord, the address of the rental, and the reason the tenant has been asked to leave. It also includes a deadline for moving out. The landlord can have it hand-delivered to the tenant or have one copy mailed and the other posted prominently at the rental.

Filing for Eviction

If the tenant doesn't fix the problem and doesn't move out, the landlord can file suit for unlawful detainer -- an eviction. He can get the necessary paperwork from the clerk of the court. After the landlord files suit, he must serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint, notifying her of the case.

The Alabama 13th Judicial Circuit says that if the tenant owes rent, a sheriff's officer or a private process server must deliver the complaint by certified mail or in person. If the complaint is purely for possession of the apartment, first-class mail coupled with posting a copy at the rental is enough. The tenant should file an answer with the court within seven days and show up at the hearing, or the landlord can win by default.

Appearing In Court

The burden of proof is on the landlord to show grounds for eviction when the case gets to court. If the tenant defaults, he can present a copy of the lease and paperwork showing the tenant was properly notified and served, and this should be enough. If the tenant attends the hearing, she can argue that the landlord didn't serve or properly notify her, or she might present a canceled check to show that she did pay the rent. She might also show that the landlord is trying to evict her for discriminatory reasons, or because she filed a complaint against him or otherwise exercised her legal rights.

The Eviction Process

If the landlord wins and the tenant doesn't want to leave, the court will give the tenant seven days to appeal. If there's no appeal, the court will issue a Writ of Possession authorizing the sheriff to remove the tenant.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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