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Alabama Renters Rights: What You Should Know Before Signing a Lease

Renting a home or apartment can be a very exciting time. Over a half a million or roughly 30 percent of Alabamians rent. But if things go wrong between a renter and the landlord, the excitement can turn into frustration. So, before you sign the lease agreement, you should know the basic renters rights as laid out in the Alabama Tenants’ Handbook.

Just as the landlord has rights, a tenant has rights. They vary a little from state-to-state, so it is important to know the renters rights for your state. Here are a few highlights of Alabama’s renters rights:

  • Some states allow a tenant to “repair and deduct.” Alabama does not. Do not withhold rent for repairs if you live in Alabama, you could be breaching your lease.
  • Alabama abides by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against tenants based on race, religion, gender, disability or familial status.
  • Landlords cannot charge more than one month’s rent for the security deposit
  • Tenants can sue their landlord when they fail to return security deposits

Landlords must: 

  • Comply with building and housing codes related to health and safety
  • Keep utilities in working order (those provided)
  • Provide receptacles for garbage removal
  • Supply heating and water
  • Give two-day notice to enter rentals in non-emergencies.

Renters must: 

  • Pay the rent
  • Dispose of garbage safely
  • Use utilities reasonably
  • Avoid conduct that would disturb neighbors and allow landlord access for inspections or repairs.

Carefully review the lease before you sign it and ask questions for any part that you don’t understand. Before move-in, take pictures and/or videos documenting any existing damage.

Landlords are responsible for big structural items, like the roof, heating, air, plumbing, sewer and any appliances that came with the rental as part of the agreement. Tenants are responsible for keeping the rental clean, using the property for its intended use, and notifying the landlord in a timely manner about any problems.

Should you run into a situation where your landlord ignores requests or refuses to fix the problems, the best place to start is with the city or county building/inspection department. Unfortunately, that may not be a solution. If the city inspector comes out, identifies a problem and it isn’t fixed within a certain amount of time, the property could be condemned. On the other hand, it may be enough to get the landlord to take action.

You can’t rely on your landlord to protect your belongings from damage. That’s why renters insurance is so important. It’s a safeguard against water damage, theft, fire, and a possible lawsuit if someone is injured in your apartment. It won’t cost you an arm and a leg – and, it will give you peace of mind.

Call USAgencies today at (800) 420-3712 to get a free renters insurance quote from a live agent. Or, you can request a renters insurance quote online. USAgencies provides quality, low-cost renters insurance. Call today.