Alabama Tenant's Right to Notice Before Landlord Entry
Know whether the tenant has to let the landlord in
Alabama tenants are protected under Alabama’s Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. One important aspect included in this Act is a tenant’s right when a landlord requests access to his or her unit. A tenant pays rent and with that rent assumes a certain amount of privacy. A landlord owns the unit and with this ownership assumes a certain amount of access to his or her units. In Alabama, learn about a tenant’s right to notice before a landlord’s entry.
Alabama Tenant’s Right to Notice
According to Alabama code, in most circumstances, a landlord must provide a tenant with notice before the landlord is allowed to enter the tenant’s unit. The landlord is required to provide the tenant with at least two days’ notice.
Exceptions to Notice
In Alabama, there are certain situations where a landlord will be exempt from having to provide a tenant with notice prior to entry. These situations include:
- Emergencies: A landlord does not have to have a tenant’s prior consent before entering the unit in an emergency situation. An example of an emergency could be a fixture in the tenant’s bathroom overflowing into the tenant’s unit downstairs.
- By Court Order: If a landlord has been granted access to a tenant’s unit by court order, the landlord does not need to provide the tenant with notice prior to entering.
- If the Tenant Requests Repairs: If the tenant contacts the landlord to request that a repair or other maintenance issue be completed, that request will serve as the tenant’s notice that the landlord can enter the unit. The landlord does not have to give the tenant the typical two days’ notice to make the repair.
- General Notices: Landlords have the right to provide general notices for repairs, maintenance, pest control, or other health and safety issues in advance. In these cases, the first notice will suffice and the landlord does not have to provide an additional notice two days’ prior to the event.
- If Tenant Fails to Maintain Unit: If a tenant has failed to respond to a landlord’s written request to remedy a health or safety violation in the tenant’s unit that can be remedied by cleaning, replacement, or repair, within seven days, the landlord can enter the tenant’s unit and cause the work to be done. In addition, the landlord can bill the tenant for the work.
- Tenant Absence in Excess of 14 Days: When a tenant has been absent from the rental unit for a period greater than 14 days, a landlord may enter the tenant’s unit at times reasonably necessary. This could include to make necessary repairs or to show the unit to prospective tenants.
- When Tenant’s Lease Is Set to Expire: If a tenant’s lease is set to expire, and the tenant does not plan on renewing the lease, the landlord will need to show the property to prospective tenants. The landlord and tenant can sign a separate agreement in which the tenant acknowledges that the landlord has the right to show the unit to prospective tenants or buyers within four months of the lease expiring. The landlord may still have to give the tenant prior notice, but it does not necessarily have to be two days’ notice.
- Landlord Believes Tenant Abandoned Unit: Under Alabama law, if a landlord has “reasonable cause” to believe a tenant has abandoned the unit, the landlord can gain entry into the unit without notifying the tenant first.
How Must Notice Be Given?
Alabama law describes what is considered proper notice. Under the law, a landlord should post a notice on the door that the tenant uses as the primary means to enter into their dwelling unit. This notice should include:
- The date the landlord wishes to enter
- The time the landlord wishes to enter
- The purpose of entering the unit
If a tenant contacts a landlord about a needed repair or signs a separate agreement with the landlord allowing the landlord to show the unit to prospective tenants, then the tenant is already consenting to the landlord’s entry and the landlord does not have to post this separate notice.
At What Times Can a Landlord Enter the Rental Unit?
In Alabama, after giving the proper notice, a landlord can enter a rental unit at “reasonable times.” Although Alabama’s statute does not directly define what reasonable times are, reasonable times are generally considered to be in the course of normal business hours. This could be between 8 A.M. and 6 P.M. A landlord must enter during these times unless another time outside of this window has been mutually agreed upon by landlord and tenant.
Lawful Reasons a Landlord Can Enter in Alabama
Alabama’s landlord-tenant code defines the lawful reasons a landlord is allowed to enter into a tenant’s unit. These include:
- To inspect the premises
- To make necessary repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements
- To make agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements
- To supply necessary or agreed upon services
- To show the unit to prospective tenants or buyers
- To show the unit to contractors, repairmen, or mortgagees
Can a Tenant Deny a Landlord Entry?
Alabama code defines the methods by which a landlord can enter a tenant’s unit and the reasons the landlord can do so. Therefore, there are situations when a tenant must allow the landlord to gain access to their unit and there are situations when a tenant can deny a landlord entry into their unit.
- Deny Entry: If the landlord did not give proper notice, is attempting to enter the unit to harass the tenant, or wants to access the unit for a reason that is not lawfully allowed, the tenant can deny the landlord entry into their unit.
- Allow Entry: If the landlord did give proper notice and is entering for a legally allowed reason or did not give proper notice and is entering the unit due to an emergency, a court order or any of the other exceptions listed under Alabama code, the tenant must allow the landlord entry into their unit.
Remedies for Abuse of Access
Tenants and landlords each have certain rights if either party abuses the other party’s rights when it comes to accessing the unit.
- Tenant: If a landlord attempts to gain unlawful access to the tenant’s apartment, the tenant can obtain injunctive relief from a court to stop the behavior. The tenant may also be awarded actual damages.
- Landlord: If a tenant unlawfully denies a landlord access to his or her unit, the landlord can obtain injunctive relief from the court to gain access or can elect to terminate the rental agreement. The landlord may also be awarded actual damages.
Alabama Code on Landlord Entry
To view the original text of Alabama’s Code on landlord entry, please consult Alabama’s Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act §§ Section 35-9A-144, Section 35-9A-303, and Section 35-9A-442.