Evicting a tenant in Alabama involves a landlord giving a tenant official notice and waiting for the statutory period. If the tenant does not fix the lease violation, such as pay the rent in full, the tenant will be required to vacate and leave the property. If the tenant remains on the property, in violation of the lease, the landlord can file a Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer.
Laws – Title 35, Chapter 9A & Title 6, Chapter 6, Article 8
How to Evict
- Step 1 – Send an Eviction Notice
- Step 2 – Wait to Hear from the Tenant
- Step 3 – File in the Court
- Step 4 – Serve the Tenant
- Step 5 – Attend Court Hearing
- Step 6 – Obtain a Writ of Possession
- Step 7 – Repossess the Property
Step 1 – Send an Eviction Notice
- False Information on Rental App
- Health / Safety Violation
- Illegal Activity
- Late Rent
- Month-to-Month Tenancy
Once the lease violation has been identified. An eviction notice (or “notice to quit”) must be given to the tenant. The notice will inform the tenant of the lease violation, any options to cure, and the time period to comply.
- False Information on Rental App (7-day notice) – If the landlord discovers the tenant misrepresented their information on the rental application an immediate eviction may proceed1.
- Health / Safety Violation (7-day notice) – To keep the premises in accordance with Section 35-9A-301 and maintain the dwelling unit in a clean and safe condition2.
- Illegal Activity (7-day notice) – For the use or transportation of illegal drugs or discharging of a firearm. Also includes assault of any tenant or guest on the property3.
- Late Rent (7-day notice) – If the tenant is late on rent. There is no grace period4 in Alabama, therefore, rent is due on the date stated in the lease5.
- Month-to-Month Tenancy (30-day notice) – To end a tenancy at will and which requires the landlord giving thirty (30) days’ notice6.
- Noncompliance (7-day notice) – For any violation of the lease other than late rent. If the tenant makes the same violation in any 12-month period, the landlord can terminate the lease1.
Step 2 – Wait to Hear from the Tenant
After a tenant is given notice it is common for them to contact the landlord. After communicating with the tenant the landlord should have an idea of what they are dealing with. If the tenant is to cure the lease violation, the lease will remain in place and continue as usual.
If no response by the tenant, the landlord will need the help of the local court.
Step 3 – File in the Court
- Average Processing Time – 4-6 months8
- Filing Fee – $2478
- Where to File – File the forms at the District Court where the property is located9.
The landlord will be required to complete and file the following forms:
- Statement of Claim (Form C-59);
- Summons (Form SM-7); and
- A copy of the Eviction Notice sent to the tenant.
Make 3 copies of the forms for filing with the clerk.
Step 4 – Serve the Tenant
The landlord will be required to serve the tenant a copy of the filed form and a chance to present their case with an Answer (Form PS–01). These documents must be delivered by a process server or “constable”10. Use the National Association of Process Servers List to find a licensed person to deliver the papers to the tenant.
The tenant has 7 days to complete and file the answer with the clerk11
Step 5 – Attend Court Hearing
The Judge may ask for penalties by the landlord. The landlord may claim double rent and other damages such as the filing fees and attorney’s fees12. During the hearing, the Judge may ask for testimony from the tenant to request their version of events.
The landlord should be prepared to answer any of the following common tenant defenses:
- Landlord not delivering possession at the start of the lease13;
- Landlord to maintain the premises14;
- Materially affecting the health and safety of the tenant15;
- If the landlord attempts to conduct certain measures16;
If the landlord wins, the court will issue a Notice of Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer (Form C-60) which will have the date and time of the court hearing17 .
Step 6 – Obtain a Writ of Possession
If the landlord wins an unlawful detainer judgment, the court will allow 7 days for the tenant to file an appeal for a jury trial in the circuit court18. For this to occur, the tenant will have to also pay and prove rent has been paid.
If the tenant does not appeal the case the landlord may obtain the Writ of Possession from the clerk19.
Step 7 – Repossess the Property
The Writ of Restitution or Possession should be given to the local Sheriff’s office which will process the repossession within 4-6 weeks. After the Sheriff changes the locks or obtains the property another way, the landlord will have the property back in their possession.
If the tenant left any personal items on the property, they will have 14 days20 to make plans and recover from the landlord.
- § 35-9A-421(a)
- § 36-9A-401
- § 35-9A-421(d)
- § 35-9A-161
- § 35-9A-421(b)
- § 35-9A-441(b)
- § 6-6-331
- § 6-6-332(b)
- § 6-6-314
- § 35-9A-402
- § 35-9A-203
- § 35-9A-204
- § 35-9A-501
- § 6-6-332
- § 6-6-350
- § 6-6-319
- § 35-9A-423(d)