• Anderson Cullen

Residential Eviction Basics

An eviction in Alabama can bring significant consequences and hassles for everyone involved. Tenants face the prospect of finding new housing with the negative marks of eviction in their residential histories while landlords experience a loss of income and increase in costs as they work find new tenants and prepare their properties for the transitions. Adding to these practical difficulties are the legal complexities of the eviction process.



When Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant?


With a Lease

Often, landlords and tenants have leases that set the ground rules for their interactions. This situation creates a more structured relationship between the two parties that results in various rights and obligations. In this case, a landlord can evict a tenant if the tenant 1) misrepresents something in the lease or the tenant’s rental application, 2) breaches, or fails to comply with, the terms of the lease, 3) fails to take certain steps to keep the property in a safe condition, 4) fails to pay rent, or 5) commits certain illegal acts.


Without a Lease

Without a lease, a landlord has greater flexibility. In addition to being able to evict a tenant for failing to take the required steps to keep the property safe, failing to pay rent, or violating certain laws, the landlord can simply end the tenancy with proper notice. Generally, this notice must be given in writing 30 days before the date on which the landlord would like the tenancy to end. However, if the tenant has a week-to-week tenancy, the notice may be given just seven days in advance.


How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant?


When a landlord seeks to evict a tenant, the landlord must provide written notice. This notice must inform the tenant of the landlord’s intent to terminate the tenancy, the legal cause for that termination, and the date that the tenancy will be terminated. The termination date must be at least seven business days after the notice is delivered by the landlord.


What Can a Tenant Do?


When a tenant receives a termination notice, the tenant may have the opportunity to remedy, or fix, the problem. This option exists if the tenant has breached the lease, failed to take the required steps to keep the property safe, or failed to pay rent. In other cases, the tenant does not have the opportunity to remedy the problem. Instead, the tenant must leave the property. However, if the tenant does not believe the termination is legally permissible, the tenant may refuse to leave. In this case, the landlord may accept the tenant’s refusal or may sue to remove the tenant.


Removal


If a tenant has not remedied the problem or moved out by the termination date, the landlord may begin the process of removal by suing the tenant. During this suit, the landlord will attempt to show legal cause for the eviction while the tenant can try to show that the eviction is not proper. If the landlord wins, there will be a court order that the landlord can use to require the tenant to leave.


If a tenant refuses to leave after a landlord has won an eviction suit, the landlord may have a law enforcement officer remove the tenant from the property. However, the landlord may not try to remove the tenant without the use of law enforcement. If the landlord makes such an attempt, the tenant may sue the landlord for up to three months’ rent or the tenant’s actual expenses, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees.


If a tenant leaves behind personal property for more than 14 days after termination, the landlord may dispose of the property.


If you would like to enter a lease agreement or learn more about Alabama rental laws, contact Anderson Cullen at (469) 559-8657 or info@andersoncullen.com to set up a consultation. Every situation is different, and no strategy works in every case. Together, we can figure out the right approach for your situation.

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