Legal FAQs for Renters in Alabama

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.

This page was last updated on Aug 26th, 2022. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

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Emergency Protections during COVID

Emergency Protections during COVID


Are there any special protection for renters in Alabama during the emergency?

Alabama's statewide emergency protections for renters have expired. Landlords may now try to sue tenants to evict them. If you are worried about an eviction, reach out as soon as possible to your local legal aid group. The lawyers may be able to help you find protections and services to deal with your eviction.

Earlier Protections

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey had suspended evictions for non-payment of rent through June 1, 2020. The eviction suspension went into effect on April 3, 2020 and ended on June 1, 2020, according to the Governor's latest proclamation.

Alabama renters may also have had national protections against eviction through the CDC Eviction Moratorium. That expired on August 26, 2021.

What did the protections mean for Alabama renters?

Since the emergency protections have expired, then for Alabama renters:

  • Your landlord can still give you a notice to quit.
  • Your landlord can still file an eviction claim against you.
  • The court can still hear an eviction case against you.
  • The court can still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
  • Law enforcement can enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in Alabama?

Yes, your rent is still due.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • 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.
Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Alabama?

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
  • Electricity
  • Bathroom use
  • Missing doors, locks, or windows
  • Pests

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.

Can I break my lease?

You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.

Your lease is still valid despite the emergency period. However, you can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.

Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease, in some cases penalty-free.

Find legal help to get advice for your situation.

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.

It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against you, win the case, and get an eviction order from the court. Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.

Find legal help to protect your rights.

Are eviction cases still proceeding through Alabama courts?

In-person proceedings in Alabama courts have resumed as of May 15, 2020, and some remote proceedings are occurring. Check with your local courts for more information.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

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.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

Behind on Rent?

Behind on Rent?


Who can help me with rent that I owe?

If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.

Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.

Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.

Am I eligible for rent relief?

Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.

You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.

You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.

You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to see if you are eligible.

Does immigration status matter for rent relief?

Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.

Can a landlord apply for their renter, to get rental assistance?

Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.

Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.

The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.

Check with your local Rental Assistance program about the steps to follow to apply for rent relief.

Get Help From Local Groups

State 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

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