Tenant Law in Alabama
The relationship between a landlord and tenant in Birmingham, Alabama can occasionally be a touchy one. Landlords and tenants are not always clear on their respective rights and obligations.
Tenants and landlords have numerous legal rights and responsibilities. In general, these rights don't conflict with one another, as long as both parties are clear about what they are, and act accordingly.
Landlord's Rights in Birmingham, AL
The most basic right that landlords have is the right to be paid the agreed-upon rent by their tenant. Obviously, renting apartments is how landlords make a living, so they are entitled to collect the rent that the tenant agreed to pay.
Landlords also have a right to be paid for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. All damage caused by a tenant, besides reasonable wear and tear, can be billed, and the landlord can deduct from the tenant's security deposit to pay for repairs.
Tenant's Rights in Birmingham, AL
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Birmingham, Alabama must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Moreover, tenants are entitled to common areas that are reasonable safe and sanitary. The common areas of an apartment building would contain lobbies, laundry rooms, stairwells, hallways, and fire escapes (essentially, any part of the building which all of the tenants can access). In Birmingham, Alabama, these areas must be kept reasonably clean and safe.
In the United States, and most likely under the statutes of Alabama, it is unlawful for renters or sellers of real estate to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, color, or religion. Doing so can subject a landlord to harsh civil penalties. Additionally, they cannot discriminate based on physical disabilities, either. Tenants with physical disabilities, who are otherwise qualified to rent an apartment (they are able to pay, have good credit, etc.) are entitled to make reasonable modifications to the apartment to make it more accessible to them, and the landlord generally can't bar a tenant from doing this, as long as the modifications are not too extensive, and are reversible. The landlord can, however, require the tenant to remove the modifications, at the tenant's expense, when they move out.
Tenants are also legally safeguarded from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Birmingham, Alabama Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants almost always prefer to prevent conflict. In a perfect world, tenants would pay rent on time, and landlords would always provide the services that they're being paid for. As we know, the world isn't perfect. When cases demonstrate the world's imperfection, a Birmingham, Alabama real estate attorney can help, whether you're a landlord or a tenant.