Most residential leases and rental agreements in Alabama require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Alabama landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Alabama law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Alabama landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month's rent for the security deposit -- not including an additional amount for pet deposits, deposits to cover undoing tenant's alterations, and deposits to cover tenant activities that pose increased liability risks.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Alabama for returning a security deposit?
Under Alabama law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 35 days after the lease or tenancy has ended and the tenant has moved out (delivered possessions of the rental to the landlord).
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Alabama landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Alabama?
Not at the state level in Alabama. But be sure to check your local (county, city, or town) laws to see if your municipality requires landlords to take additional steps when it comes to tenants' security deposits.
Where can I look up Alabama law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Alabama law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Alabama Code § 35-9A-201. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Alabama. For tips on looking up Alabama state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You can also find useful information in the state's tenant's guide http://www.limestonesheriff.com/FAQ/rent%20handbook.pdf.