While it’s the landlord’s job to make sure the rental premises is fit for human habitation and complies with all local health and building ordinances and codes, both the landlord and the tenant have a duty to maintain the premises. A lease agreement will outline any general and specific responsibilities of each party, and include any additional statutory obligations of the parties that concern maintenance of the premises. Maintenance responsibilities for the landlord and tenant can be found in Ala. Code 1975, § 35-9A-204(a) and Ala. Code 1975, § 35-9A-301, respectively.
Landlord’s maintenance obligations
- Comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Make all repairs and keep the premises in a habitable condition.
- Keep all common areas in a clean and safe condition.
- Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances.
- Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of garbage and arrange for their removal.
- Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat except if the building is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or if the premises is constructed in such a way that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
Tenant’s maintenance obligations
- Comply with all provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Keep the tenant-occupied part of the premises as clean and safe as conditions permit.
- Dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a clean and safe manner.
- Keep all plumbing fixtures used by tenant as clear as their condition permits.
- Use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances in a reasonable manner.
- Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises, and do not knowingly allow any person to do so.
- Do not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
Seasoned landlords will typically review all of the major sections of a lease agreement with the tenant prior to move in, just to make sure the tenant is aware of their obligations under the agreement. It’s a good idea to review the maintenance obligations as a way to set expectations and start a positive landlord tenant experience.
Alternative arrangements by separate agreement
Alabama landlord tenant law specifies that a landlord and tenant can agree to alternative arrangements for maintenance responsibilities if signed as a separate agreement. Ala. Code 1975, § 35-9A-204(b-d) distinguishes between a single family residence and a multi-family residence in this regard.
- Single family residence: Landlord and tenant can agree in writing that the tenant perform landlord’s duties specified above, as well as specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, and remodeling.
- Multi-family residence: Landlord and tenant can agree that the tenant will perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling only if the agreement is in a separate writing signed by the parties and supported by adequate consideration, the work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with the landlord’s obligations to comply with building and housing codes, and the agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants.