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Landlord Access Rights

When can a landlord enter a tenant’s rental property? There are times when notice alone is acceptable, or even no notice at all, but sometimes consent is required. Read the rules, below. They are an excerpt from the book available for sale on this website, Alabama Landlords Desk Reference and Forms Book. (more info HERE)

Tenant reasonable consent

The landlord may (of course!) request permission for access.  The tenant is not allowed to unreasonably withhold its consent for :

  • Inspections
  • Necessary or agreed repairs
  • Decorations, alterations, or improvements
  • The provision of necessary or agreed services
  • The purpose of showing the premises to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen or contractors.[1]
  • (With the right language in your lease, a tenant who unreasonably withholds its consent can be declared in default and/or fined.)

No consent required

Sometimes consent is not possible. There are emergencies, or tenants don’t return phone calls, or there is no time, such as a prospect who wants to look at a property during their lunch hour, right now. ARLTA provides some help for such situations.

No consent is required in the case of:

  • Emergency[2]
  • Court order[3]
  • Tenant failure to maintain property and landlord must enter and remedy[4]
  • Landlord has reasonable cause to believe the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property[5]
  • Performance of tenant-requested repairs[6]
  • During any absence of a tenant in excess of 14 days, the landlord may enter the unit at times reasonably necessary[7]
  • Showing the property to tenant- or buyer-prospects in the last 4 months of the term, but only if this is authorized in a document separate from the lease. It can be signed at the time as the lease signing, but is effective only during the final four months of the term. Both landlord and prospective tenant or purchaser must be present during the showing. In other words, the property cannot be put on a lockbox for access by other persons.[8]
  • Scheduled pest control , repairs, maintenance or health/safety, but only if this is authorized in a document separate from the lease. It can be signed at the same time as the lease signing, but if that is fewer than two days before the first regularly scheduled entry, then regular notice and consent is required for that first visit The schedule can be for specific dates, or for a designated time period, such as the second Tuesday and following Wednesday of each month.  If it is impracticable to give prior notice, then the landlord may enter without notice. .[9]

Two days’ notice unless that is impractical

If the landlord wants to show the property to prospective tenants or purchasers or lenders, it must at least TRY to give two days’ notice. The notice can be satisfied by posting a note on the main door of the dwelling.  If notice is not practical under the circumstances, then no notice is required.[10] The landlord cannot use this limited exception as a tool to harass the tenant, and cannot abuse its rights under this limited exception. (Footnotes with citations appear at the end of this article)


More Info: Landlord Book

[1]Ala. Code §35-9A-303(a)

[2] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(b)(1)

[3] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(b)(2)

[4] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(b)(3), which makes reference to Ala. Code §35-9A-422 and the landlord’s right to enter and remedy problems causes by tenant’s failure to comply with Ala. Code §§35-9A-301 related to various tenant responsibilities to maintain the property and not cause damage to it.

[5] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(b)(5)

[6] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(e)

[7] Ala. Code §35-9A-423(b)

[8] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(b)(4)

[9] Ala. Code §35-9A-303(d)

[10]Ala. Code §35-(a-303(c)

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HOA Rules and Tenants

Some homeowner and condo association rules prohibit rentals.  Be sure to review the rules and bylaws before putting a property up for rent, or before accepting a rental for property management. If in doubt about the exact language, consult with an attorney.  The luxury condos Turquoise Towers, in Orange Beach, had a rule prohibiting anything except residential use. The rule was intended to make it illegal to rent someone’s unit as a vacation rental. But, the exact language did not accomplish that. A residential rental is still a residential use.  A resort company was able to buy up 50+ units shortly after the crash, making many unhappy condo owners even more unhappy. An attorney can provide guidance if you are in doubt.

Landlords of properties subject to HOA rules or condo association rules should always provide a copy of those rules to the tenant, and include a lease provision that the tenant will obey the rules.  A tenant who violates the rules could subject the owner to fines, liens, loss of rights, attorneys fees and, possibly, loss of property through foreclosure of the lien.  It is not a defense that the owner did not know of the unauthorized activities. It is not a defense that the owner specifically prohibited those activities in the lease.  If the tenant causes problems, the owner will pay the consequences.

This means the property managers who handle SFR and condo rentals will have to be completely familiar with the rules for the various associations that might be relevant to a property. It might be wise to meet with the manager for the association, and request a warning letter or phone call before adverse action is taken. If they agree, be sure to get it in writing, or write a “This is to confirm our conversation that ….” letter to the HOA contact. Otherwise, if they fail to provide the warning and go straight to sanctions, you will be in a “he-said-she-said” situation.

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Repair Requests

You don’t need specialized software to have easy online management of repair requests. Spend 20 minutes setting up our system, and you will save LOTS of time later, and always have a paper trail if somebody lies about something. Interested?

It all starts with creating an online form in Google Forms or one of the other services that have free forms, if you don’t have a google account. You are limited in the number of forms and fields, but almost anybody’s free subscription should work for you. JotForm.com is one. There are many others.

The steps for creating forms are very easy and intuitive. These are the fields you need:

  • Tenant name (short text block, click setting to make entry required)
  • Address and unit number, if applicable (short text block, click setting to make entry required)
  • Cell phone number (short text block, make required)
  • How long has this problem been going on? (short text block, make required)
  • Describe the problem (long text block, make required)

The form generator will create the form for you, and assign a url (website address) to your form. Now you have to make it easy for your tenants to get to the place to use the form for a repair request.

The best way to make it easy for your tenants is to create a QR code for the url of your form. For some of you reading this, that sounded like Greek, didn’t it? QR codes are like the one at the left. If you have the free QR code app on your phone, you can open the app, click on the code as if you are taking a picture of it, and your phone will open a specific webpage for you. It can do lots of other things if you want, but for this article we want that code to take your tenant to the place where you have your online form for repair requests. BTW, the QR code at the left will take you to the Gulf Shores, Alabama, beach cam.

Once your tenant clicks on the code, the repair request form will open on their phone. They can complete the fields and then click on “send.” The system will them send you an email with all the information the tenant just entered on the form, plus the date and time. You can forward the email to a repair person, and add your own comments if you want. You can print it out and put it in the tenant’s file or on your stack of “To Do” items. You can do ANYTHING you could do after talking to a tenant or listening to a voice mail message and writing down notes of your conversation.

PLUS you have a paper trail so if a tenant claims it made a repair request (but did not) there is no form to back up his claim. If he claims he asked for something different, the paper trail does not back him up. If she claims she never gave you permission to enter her apartment and did not ask for any repairs, the paper trail saves your fanny. Because, if the tenant asks for repairs, you automatically have permission to enter, under the Alabama Residential Landlord Tenant Act.

How do you create the QR Code? Go to any one of the free QR code generator websites. One that I use is https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/ Select a static form. Those are usually free. Dynamic codes let you later change what happens when someone clicks on it. You don’t need that feature. When asked, enter the url for the form you created. The website will generate a QR code for you. Download it. Print it out. Put a copy inside one of the kitchen cabinets, with a label saying what it is.

When you sign up a new tenant, make sure they download the QR code app. Write something in your lease saying that repair requests MUST be via the online form. Be sure to mention this during the initial move-in walk-thru and inspection.

Sit back, and watch your life get a lot easier!