COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in
This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.
This page was last updated on July 3, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
Its information is taken from these sources:Ala. Governor eviction orderAlabama courtsPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerAla. Governor extension of eviction orderAla. Governor 5/21 amendment to eviction order
- Are there any special protection for renters in Alabama during the emergency?
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey suspended evictions for non-payment of rent through June 1. The eviction suspension went into effect on April 3, 2020 and ended on June 1, 2020, according to the Governor's latest proclamation.
Evictions have now resumed.
Please check with the governor's office for more updates.
- What do the protections mean for Alabama renters?
The protection meant that through June 1st in Alabama:
- Your landlord could still give you a notice to quit.
- Your landlord could still file an eviction claim against you.
- Hearings on eviction depend on local regulations, and the court could still hear an eviction case against you.
- The court could still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- Law enforcement could not enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home, if the order is based on non-payment of rent.
After June 1, evictions have resumed against Alabama renters. They still may have national protections that protect them through July 2020.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?
Yes, your rent is still due.
In Alabama, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent during the emergency, but you may be evicted as soon as the special protections end.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. Also check here for another letter-writing tool.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency?
Alabama renters must still pay their utility bills.
Some companies have said they will not shut off utilities during the emergency to customers in Birmingham, Decatur, Mobile, and Piedmont.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- What if I need repairs?
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
The emergency may delay your landlord's ability to make repairs, but if they are urgent you should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
- Running water or hot water
- Heat or air conditioning
- Stove, oven, or refrigerator
- Bathroom use
- Missing doors, locks, or windows
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs and keep a copy of this communication.
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
- Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?
Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.
Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.
If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)
- Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
- Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
- After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.