5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Law

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Law

I love it when I get a call from someone’s attorney.

Most people are scared when they call. I actually appreciate it when they call, because they typically are non-emotional (unlike an angry tenant), they are reasonable and they know VERY little about the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act of Alabama (URLTA).

This brings to mind a letter I received from an attorney representing a tenant who had just moved out.

We had just sent him his accounting of his security deposit and the tenant was NOT happy about it. The guy had lived there for over 4 years, but had been very hard on the home. So we hit his security deposit for everything he was responsible for paying.

Instead of arguing the items, which I went ahead and provided pictures of for the attorney’s reviewing pleasure, the brilliant attorney attempted to hang us up on the fact that we had exceeded the 35 days required by the URLTA to return his client’s security deposit. He even quoted the section of the URLTA to me in an effort to make his case and demanded the URLTA allowed 3 times his the original security deposit for his client . . . or he would sue us.

Little did the attorney’s Google search reveal, but the URLTA was updated in 2011 and allowed for 60 days to return the tenant’s deposit. LOL. I love these types of situations.

I sent him the UPDATED sections and at least the attorney was nice enough to call and apologize for wasting my time. Which I appreciated. But for wasting my time, he gets to be a story I can use over and over as an example of knowing the law and not being afraid to use it.

Even though I’m knowledgeable about the law (I even told my to-be wife I was going to be an attorney…talk about bait and switch), I’m not one and suggest you seek legal advice regarding this subject from a competent one.

Let me warn you though, there are only a few competent ones (on this subject) in Birmingham, so seek wisely.

Most people were not aware that you have 60 days now to return a deposit, which you now know. So that one was a freebie.

Let’s look at the five things I bet you didn’t know about the URLTA:

1. If a tenant submits a work order, they are giving you permission to enter the home. That’s right! You don’t have to let them know and you can use your keys to just walk right in and fix it. We attempt to do our best to coordinate this with the tenant. They would prefer that. But, there are many times when we can’t coordinate with the tenant (perhaps they are being difficult) and we complete the work order.

2. If a tenant doesn’t cash their security deposit refund for 180 days, you get to keep it. This is one of the craziest ones I found in the law. How often does this happen? Not usually. But it does happen.

3. If a tenant leaves property in your house for 14 days after the termination of the lease, you have no duty to store it and can throw it away. Most people worry about this one because they don’t want to pay for a bunch of random crap. I’m mad it takes 14 days before you can set it at the street. Bottom line, if it goes 14 days, put anything you don’t want out and let the trashman have it.

4. If a tenant stays in a home without your permission when the lease is over, it is considered a “holdover”. In these cases, you are entitled to actual damages or up to 3 times the monthly rent, whichever is GREATER. This is something else that happens very rarely. But, if it does, you need to make sure you understand exactly what you are due. Even if it is just one day.

5. If you accept money from a tenant who is being evicted, it nullifies everything you’ve done and you must start over. There are some good and some bad things. I think this is a bad law. My opinion is that the money is owed, why can’t you just take it? That’s not what the law says, so we must comply. Don’t make a “mistake” and cash it. Judges don’t look fondly on this one.

In conclusion:

I always suggest before you get into this business, particularly if you are planning on self managing, that you read the whole law. It is not that long and would be great if you can’t sleep one night.

It is best to know exactly what your rights and responsibilities are under the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act of Alabama. Doing so, will make sure you don’t end up on the wrong side of an attorney’s letter.