House bill seeks to rebalance renter-tenant protections

eviction notice

Grand Bay-Republican state Rep. David Sessions introduced a bill to lessen the amount of time given to tenants to correct minor violations of their lease contracts.

Under current law, tenants are entitled to up to four curable breaches of contract over the course of a 12-month period. If the lease contract is breached, landlords can provide tenants with a notice giving them seven days to either cure the breach, if it is curable, or move out.

Sessions’ bill, titled HB421, seeks to shorten the notice of noncompliance within a lease contract from seven to three days, expand the list of non-curable lease breaches, and change the amount of curable breaches from four to two, within a 12-month period. The bill would also make a second breach of contract non-curable, no matter how small the infraction.

“In Alabama, tenant laws are so restrictive on the landlords that getting a bad tenant out is often a lengthy, complicated process. Whats happening now, is that if landlords have a bad tenant, and the tenant takes the landlord to court, it can take 6 months to get them out, and all the court costs associated with the case are on the landlord.” 

“We’re not to here to punish anyone, we’re not here to throw people on the street, we’re just trying to streamline the process of getting a bad tenant out.”

Opponents of the bill say it will undermine important protections for Alabama renters, and would be unforgiving towards tenants.

“Just three days. If HB 421 becomes law, that’s all the time Alabama renters would get to correct a minor lease violation before landlords could kick them out of their homes,” wrote Arise Citizens’ Policy Project in a legislative alert to their supporters.

“Alabama’s 2006 Landlord-Tenant Act set out a balanced set of protections for both sides of the rental relationship. But HB421 would tilt the scales back in landlords’ favor by allowing wildly disproportionate responses to minor breaches, while giving tenants no meaningful opportunity to fix issues before losing their homes.”

The group also gave an example of how they think the bill will be used.

“If a landlord on a Friday found a guest’s vehicle parked outside a rental house for a second time without a valid tag, that tenant could end up on the street by Tuesday… Alabama families shouldn’t be kicked out of their homes over minor mistakes,” they wrote.