Taking a security deposit is one of the first orders of business for a landlord with a new tenant. Alabama landlord tenant law is straightforward about security deposits, and the language of the statute can be found at Ala. Code 1975, § 35-9A-201. To begin with, the security deposit can max out at one month’s rent. However, additional amounts can be collected if there are pets (not service animals, which are not considered pets) changes to the premises, or increased liability risks to the landlord or the premises. Alabama law does not get any more specific than that language, so landlords are wise to seek the advice of a qualified legal professional in their area to better understand the conditions for asking for more than one month’s rent as a security deposit.
Allowable charges; returning the deposit
Once a rental agreement is terminated the landlord can use the security deposit for unpaid and accrued rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and as the result of any breach of Ala. Code 1975, § 35-9A-201 which regards the tenant’s obligations for maintaining the property.
The landlord has 60 days after the termination of the rental agreement to deliver or mail the balance of the deposit, along with an itemized list of deductions from the deposit and the reasons for any deductions, to the tenant. The tenant should provide a forwarding address for purposes of receiving the security deposit and the itemized list of deductions, if any. If no forwarding address is provided the landlord should use the last known address for the tenant, even if it is the address for the premises just vacated. Any deposit unclaimed by tenant as well as any check outstanding shall be forfeited by tenant after 90 days. Finally, Alabama law stipulates that failure of the landlord to mail a timely refund or itemized accounting within the required 60-day period is liable to tenant in the amount of double the tenant’s original deposit.