A landlord in Alabama may evict a tenant for violation a term of the lease or rental agreement – for example, by having more individuals living in the rental property than the lease allows, by having a pet when the lease prohibits pets at the rental property, or by creating a health hazard at the rental property. The landlord in these situations may begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with written notice to terminate the lease. This article provides the basics.
The eviction process described in this article also applies to situations in Alabama where the tenant remains in the rental unit after the lease term has ended or when the landlord simply wants to end a month-to-month rental agreement. The Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act provides the details of the law on these types of evictions. ALA Code § 35-9A-421 prescribes the notice periods of various reasons for notice to terminate the lease.
Different rules apply if a landlord wants to terminate a tenancy for nonpayment of rent. See the Nolo article Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Alabama for details.
Alabama Eviction Notices
A notice to terminate the lease is an eviction notice that the landlord prepares informing the tenant the reason the tenant must move out and providing the date for the tenant to do so. The same notice to terminate the lease is used regardless of the reason for the lease termination, except that the notice must specify the particular reason for the eviction and the time period the tenant has to move out. Certain lease violations under Alabama law allow the tenant an opportunity to cure the breach, or fix the problem.
Notice to Terminate with Opportunity to Cure
Depending on the reason the landlord wants to evict the tenant, or terminate the lease agreement, the tenant may have an opportunity to cure the reason for the eviction and remain in the rental unit. The reasons for termination of the lease that provide an opportunity to cure are:
- noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement, such as having more occupants living in the rental unit than the number permitted by the lease or rental agreement, having a pet when the lease or rental agreement prohibits pets except for service animals, or parking in undesignated parking spaces for the rental unit, and
- failure of the tenant to comply with building and housing codes affecting health and safety of the tenants or neighbors.
Both of these reasons for termination of the lease agreement require the landlord to give the tenant 14 days to remedy the problem or move out of the rental unit. If the tenant does remedy, or cure, the breach of the lease agreement or the health or safety issue within 14 days of the notice, then the lease does not terminate. If the tenant does not remedy the problem within 14 days of the notice, then the lease terminates and the tenant must move or face court action by the landlord.
Landlords who do not want to give a tenant with a month-to-month rental agreement the option of curing the violation may serve the tenant a notice to terminate the tenancy, which allows the tenant 30 days to move. If the tenant is in a week-to-week rental agreement, the landlord may provide a notice indicating the tenant has only seven days to move out. ALA Code § 35-9A-441 outlines the details for terminating periodic tenancies such as month-to-month or week-to-week.
Non-Curable Notice to Terminate
Some acts or omissions by the tenant will cause the landlord to serve a notice of termination of the lease without any opportunity to cure – this means the tenant is not permitted by law to fix the problem, the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the given deadline. The reasons for termination of the lease that do not provide an opportunity to cure are:
- an intentional misrepresentation of a substantial fact in a rental agreement or application
- possession or use of illegal drugs in the dwelling unit or common areas
- discharge of a firearm on the premises of the rental property, except in cases of self-defense as allowed by law, and
- criminal assault of a tenant or guest on the premises of the rental property.
For the first reason listed, an intentional misrepresentation of a material fact in a rental agreement or application, the landlord must give the tenant 14 days after receipt of the notice to terminate the lease to move out of the rental unit before the landlord may file an eviction action in court. As for the remaining list items, the landlord need only give the tenant seven days to move out of the rental unit before filing an eviction action.
What Is Included in the Notice to Terminate the Lease in Alabama?
The landlord must include the following information when drafting a notice to terminate the lease for a lease violation:
- the name and address of the tenant
- the landlord’s name
- the reason for the notice of termination of the lease,
- indication of the number of days the tenant has to move out of the rental unit
- whether the tenant has the opportunity to cure, and
- the landlord’s signature.
Here is sample language for a notice to terminate a lease agreement, depending on whether the violation is curable or not.
Sample language for a curable lease violation:
“To (here insert the name of tenant(s)):
You are hereby notified that in consequence of (here insert reason for the termination) in regard to the premises now occupied by you, being (here insert the address of the rental property), I, (here insert landlord’s name) have elected to terminate your lease if the breach is not remedied within the _____ days after receipt of this notice. Dated this _____ day of ________.”
To be signed by the landlord.
Sample language for a non-curable lease violation:
“To (here insert the name of tenant(s)):
You are hereby notified that in consequence of (here insert reason for the termination) at the premises now occupied by you, being (here insert the address of the rental property), I, (here insert landlord’s name) have elected to terminate your lease upon the expiration of _____ days from the date of this notice whereby you must quit and deliver up possession of the rental unit. Dated this _____ day of ________.”
To be signed by the landlord.
How to Serve the Tenant with the Notice to Terminate the Lease
Once the notice is drafted and signed by the landlord, the landlord may serve the notice on the tenant by delivering it to the tenant using one of the following methods:
- personal delivery to the tenant
- personal delivery to the tenant’s rental property and giving the notice to any adult there, or
- posting the notice on the premises.
The landlord should keep a copy of the notice and make a record of to whom and the date of when the landlord served the notice. This information will be needed if the tenant fails to comply with the notice and the landlord is then forced to take further action by filing an eviction action in court.
Tenant Options When Served with a Notice of Termination for a Lease Violation
The tenant’s response to a notice of termination may have different consequences:
- If the tenant has the opportunity to cure a breach and the tenant does so within the given time period, then the lease does not terminate and the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction.
- If the tenant has the opportunity to cure a breach and the tenant fails to do so within the given time period, then the lease terminates and the tenant must move out or face an eviction action in court by the landlord.
- If the tenant does not have an opportunity to cure the breach and the tenant moves out within the given time period, the lease terminates and the landlord does not need to proceed with the eviction; however, the landlord may need to file a court action if unpaid rent is due.
- If the tenant does not have an opportunity to cure the breach and fails to move out of the rental unit, the landlord must proceed with the eviction action in court to remove the tenant from the rental property.
Resources on Evictions for Lease Violations in Alabama
A useful resource for landlords and tenants is Alabama Legal Help, which provides self-help legal information. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website publishes many helpful links to Alabama landlord-tenant resources.
For more articles on landlord-tenant laws in Alabama, see the Alabama charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo site. For more on eviction-related articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site.
If you want a lawyer’s advice on evicting a evicting a tenant, see the list of Alabama landlord-tenant lawyers in Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.