The Alabama Residential Landlord-Tenant Act permits landlords to collect security deposits from tenants. However, there are certain restrictions on the collection and return of security deposits that must be followed.
Landlords may require that a tenant pay a security deposit, but the amount of the security deposit cannot exceed the amount of one-month rent payment. There are limited circumstances where additional deposits may be collected, i.e. pets, changes to the premises, increased liability risks, etc.
Within 60 days of the termination of the tenancy, the landlord is required to return the security deposit, less any damages or outstanding rent due, to the forwarding address provided by the tenant.
A landlord may hold all or a portion of the deposit to cover unpaid rent and/or damages caused by the tenant.
If the landlord does deduct damages from the security deposit, an itemized list of damages, as well as any other deductions, must be provided to the tenant in writing.
If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within 60 days, “The landlord shall pay the tenant double the amount of the tenant’s original deposit,” in accordance with Alabama Landlord-Tenant Law.
Alabama law also obligates the tenant in matters dealing with a security deposit. Upon vacating the premises, the tenant must provide the landlord with a valid forwarding address where the unused deposit and/or an itemization may be sent. Should the tenant fail to provide a valid forwarding address, then the landlord must mail the deposit and/or itemization to the last known address of the tenant, or, if none, to the tenant at the address of the property.
Alabama law provides that the tenant shall forfeit any unclaimed deposit after 90 days.
If you are a Landlord that has questions about collecting security deposits or retaining a deposit after the vacation of a tenant, please contact the attorneys at Stanko, Senter & Mitchell today.