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Unlawful Detainers

Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act Procedures and Guidelines for Filing Unlawful Detainer Actions in the District Court

Unlawful Detainer Actions are the remedy for eviction in a landlord tenant relationship----Title 6, Code of Alabama . Effective Date: January 1, 2007. Some existing lease provisions remain until lease renews in 2007. 

WHO MAY FILE ACTIONS: Individuals representing themselves or an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama .

JURISDICTION: District Court and Circuit Court have concurrent jurisdiction. Actions seeking injunctive relief must be filed in the Circuit Court. Injunctive relief is defined as seeking to obtain an order to either command or prohibit an action.

Rules of Civil Procedure Govern.

NOTICE TO TENANT: Seven day notice for failure to pay rent, fourteen day notice for anything else. The purpose of the notice is to terminate tenancy rights. Notice must provide for right to pay any delinquent rents or correct any lease prohibitions also known as the right to cure.

INITIATED BY FILING A COMPLAINT: Form No. C-59. The Landlord/Plaintiff may sue for possession of property and for money damages in the same action. Filing fees apply and will vary, the initial filing fee is $302.00; $l0.00 for each additional defendant along with a $20.00 service fee. (If served by Sheriff's Department) for each party. *Example: the costs to file with one defendant going by sheriff service will be $322.00 * Please include a copy of the “Notice to Tenant” when filing an original action. Counterclaims are allowed by the defendant/tenant.

SERVICE:

Personal service must be attempted for possession complaint. If unable to make personal service, may be served by posting a copy on the premises. Sheriff/process server must also mail a copy of complaint to defendant by first class mail. Tile 6-6-332, Code of Alabama .

Complaint for money must be served in accordance with Rule 4, Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure which requires service by certified mail or personal service by either the Sheriff's office or a private process server. .

ANSWER: Seven calendar days to file an answer to complaint for possession of property. Fourteen calendar days to file answer to money claim (if filed in the District Court).

IF NO ANSWER FILED, a default may be taken. Filing fee for filing for default is $50.00.

APPEALS: If the case is filed in the District Court, the appeal would go to the Circuit Court. Appealed cases must be set in the Circuit Court within 60 days. (If the case is filed in the Circuit Court, the appeal would go to the Court of Civil Appeals.) The time for filing an appeal is seven calendar days from the final order or from the ruling on a post-trial motion. A post-trial motion filed before a Notice of Appeal is filed would greatly extend the time for filing a Notice of Appeal.

Order entered by District Court Judge should set the amount of appeal bond which would be two amounts based on past due rent and accruing rent. If the District Court Judge fails to set a bond before Notice of Appeal to Circuit Court is filed, the Circuit Court Judge will set bond upon filing of a motion.

In order stop the eviction while the appeal is pending, an appeal bond MUST be posted. The bond money is paid to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Affidavit of Substantial Hardship does not waive the posting of this bond to stop the eviction while the appeal is pending. If the tenant does not post a bond, it has no effect on the appeal only on his right to possession of the property.

ENFORCEMENT OF COURT ORDER: In order for property to be returned to the landlord, the landlord must file a Writ of Restitution or Possession (Form C-59A) *A $20.00 Sheriff service fee is required.* A Writ of Restitution or Possession cannot be requested until after the time for the filing of a post-judgment motion and the appeal time has expired, which is seven days from the date of the judgment in the District Court.

This information is being provided to you for the purpose of explaining the guidelines and procedures of this office in the filing of Unlawful Detainer actions in the District Court and should in no way be construed as legal advice. Should you have any questions or need additional information, it is recommended that you see an attorney.