In this article we will discuss the legal requirements of a notice for a nonpayment of rent based case in residential rental property. It will be in two parts.
In Alabama, a nonpayment of rent based eviction – by far the most common type of eviction – can only start after the landlord has served a written termination notice. This written notice cannot be an email or
text message. It must be a physical writing, that the landlord attaches to the front door of the rental property and sends regular U.S. Mail.
If your lease agreement requires that notices be served by certified mail, you must also send the notice by certified mail. That means that it is important to review your lease agreement before sending a
termination notice.
The termination notice has certain requirements to be legally valid and serves to terminate the tenant’s right to live at the property. That is actually why an eviction case is known as an “unlawful detainer”.
You have terminated the lease agreement with a termination notice and now the tenant is “unlawfully detaining” the property.
There are six basic legal requirements that this office looks for when reviewing a termination notice:
First, the termination notice must be properly and correctly addressed. It must list the full address of the rental property, including the zip code, and the street numbers cannot be transposed. There is a legal
principle that a document speaks from its “four corners”. This means that the address that your notice states it was delivered to is the address the law will assume it was actually delivered to – you cannot
testify to the contrary. If you accidentally address it incorrectly, the termination notice is defective. It should also include any apartment numbers.
Second, the termination notice must be properly dated. The notice should be dated for the date that it is served, or delivered.
The termination notice must list all leaseholders. That means, everyone who signed the lease and who has a legal interest in the property must be listed on the termination notice. A good catchall is to add,
“And All Others” or “And All Occupants” in case you are unclear about who is currently living in the property.
The termination notice must contain the right to cure. In Alabama, nonpayment of rent is what we call a “curable” default. The residential tenant has a statutory right to pay the rent and late fees, in full, within
seven business days of the date the notice was delivered. This allows them to avoid lease termination and eviction. Your termination notice must specifically state that the tenant has the right to pay the rent
to avoid eviction – the right to “cure”. A landlord has the ability to refuse partial payments. A “cure right” only exists for certain types of lease violations but is almost always required for payment related
termination.
The termination notice must contain the appropriate cure amount. Your notice should specifically state how much is owed in rent and late fees as of the date of the notice. You should not include other fees,
like pet fees or unpaid deposits. Just rent and late fees. Your late fees should not exceed 1/3 of the base rent in a calendar month. You can include a daily accrual of late fees or add that another months’ rent must be paid if the seven business day cure period will straddle another month.
Finally, the termination must contain a demand for possession. Your termination notice, in addition to being properly delivered, addressed, dated, and named, with the appropriate cure right amount, must
also state that the tenant must vacate and deliver possession to you if they fail to cure in the window of time allowed by the termination notice.
If you have any other questions about nonpayment of rent based termination notices in Alabama residential rental property, or to receive a copy of our template notice, please contact our office at (256) 562 – 1999.

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