When a tenant fails to pay rent, a landlord must take specific steps under Alabama landlord-tenant law to force the tenant to either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property. Alabama law prohibits "self-help" eviction remedies; this means the landlord cannot take personal action to remove the tenant from the rental property, such as entering the home and changing the locks, without obtaining a court order.
The first step a landlord must take to evict a tenant who has not paid rent is to serve the tenant with written notice to terminate the lease under Alabama state law.
This article explains the basics of evicting a tenant in Alabama for nonpayment of rent. It discusses the notice to terminate the lease that gives tenants the right to pay the rent rather than face an eviction lawsuit. Landlords who do not want to give a tenant with a month-to-month rental agreement the option of paying the rent must serve the tenant a notice to terminate the tenancy, which allows the tenant 30 days to move.
When a tenant does not pay rent on the day rent is due according to the lease or rental agreement, the landlord must serve the tenant with a notice to terminate the lease before the landlord can file for an eviction. This notice states that the tenant must either pay the rent due or move out of the rental property within seven days of the notice.
The landlord must include the following information when drafting a notice to terminate the lease for nonpayment of rent:
Here is sample language for a notice to terminate the lease agreement for nonpayment of rent:
"To [insert the name of tenant(s)]:
You are hereby notified that because of your failure to pay the rent due for the premises at [insert the address of the rental property], I have elected to terminate your lease. You are hereby notified to pay the rent due of [insert total of all rent and any late fees or other charges due] or quit and deliver possession of the rental property to me within seven days of this date. Dated this _____ day of ________."
To be signed by the landlord.
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:
The landlord should keep a copy of the notice and make a record of the date of when the landlord served the notice along with the name of the person who received 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.
What happens next depends on how the tenant responds to the termination notice:
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 also 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.