Alabama's renter protections at risk under HB 421

Just three days. If HB 421 becomes law, that’s all the time Alabama renters would get to correct a minor lease violation before landlords could kick them out of their homes. It would be a bad deal for more than 1 million Alabamians who rent their homes.

HB 421, sponsored by Rep. David Sessions, R-Grand Bay, would undermine important safeguards for Alabama renters. This bill would reduce the time for renters to cure, or fix, a lease violation from the current seven days to just three days. That would apply not just to unpaid rent but to any other breach of the contract. The bill also would change current state law so that any second breach of the same provision, no matter how minor, within a 12-month period would be incurable.

Current law allows tenants to cure up to four lease violations within a 12-month period as long as those breaches don’t involve activities such as illegal drug use or criminal assault. Here’s one example of just how unforgiving HB 421’s changes would be for tenants: If a landlord on a Friday found a tenant’s guest’s vehicle parked outside a rental home for a second time without a valid tag, the tenant could end up on the street by Tuesday.

Alabama’s 2006 Landlord-Tenant Act set out a balanced set of protections for both sides of rental relationships. Families shouldn’t be kicked out of their homes over minor mistakes. But HB 421 would tilt the scales back in landlords’ favor by allowing disproportionate responses to minor breaches, while giving tenants no meaningful chance to fix issues before losing their homes.

By Dev Wakeley, policy analyst. Last updated Feb. 28, 2018. Originally appeared in Arise’s February 2018 newsletter.

Investing in the Housing Trust Fund would create jobs and expand housing opportunities across Alabama

Alabama lacks more than 90,000 homes for households making minimum wage or less. That means many hard-working Alabamians, seniors, students, veterans and folks on fixed incomes can’t afford a safe place to call home. State investment in the Alabama Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) would provide flexibility to meet a variety of housing needs across the state, such as development, rehabilitation, down payment assistance and disaster recovery.

HB 273, sponsored by Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, and SB 242, sponsored by Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, would fund the AHTF by increasing the state mortgage record fee from 15 cents to 30 cents per $100 of indebtedness. This one-time filing fee has not changed since it was enacted in 1935. The increase would leave Alabama’s fee equal to Georgia’s and less than Florida’s.

The benefits would be enormous for Alabamians and our state’s economy. Strong investment in the Alabama Housing Trust Fund would:

  • Allow municipalities, nonprofits and groups like Habitat for Humanity to build or rehabilitate homes. Individuals cannot access the funds.
  • Address Alabama’s shortfall of more than 90,000 homes for low-income working families, veterans, and retirees living on fixed incomes.
  • Create thousands of jobs across the state over the next decade.

BOTTOM LINE: Hard-working Alabamians should be able to pay rent and still be able put food on the table. Every child deserves a safe place to call home. And veterans who have defended our country deserve to return to a safe and affordable place to call home. Investing in the Housing Trust Fund would help Alabama achieve all three of those goals.

Click here to read a PDF version of this fact sheet.

Last updated Feb. 1, 2018.

Home at Last: The Alabama Housing Trust Fund (2015 update)

A home is more than just somewhere to sleep at night. It’s a stable foundation from which people can work to build better lives for themselves and their families. It’s a place where people can put down roots and team with their neighbors to create and maintain a supportive, thriving community. It’s a sanctuary that gives children a better chance to succeed in school, confident that they won’t be uprooted before they can develop and sustain relationships with teachers and friends. A home, in short, is somewhere that allows people to feel that they belong.

Alabama has a shortage of almost 90,000 affordable and available homes for residents with extremely low incomes, but the Alabama Housing Trust Fund (HTF) could reduce this shortfall and make dreams of home a reality for tens of thousands of families, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. This fact sheet examines how the HTF could improve lives and how the Legislature could develop a dedicated funding stream for those efforts.

Home at Last: The Alabama Housing Trust Fund

For tens of thousands of low-income Alabamians, a home of their own is an unaffordable, inaccessible dream. Decades of stagnant earnings, combined with the rising costs of food, medicine, clothing and other essentials, have left safe, affordable housing out of financial reach for many low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. The deadly tornadoes that swept across the state in April 2011 displaced thousands more from their homes. A new state law will provide Alabama with greater ability and flexibility to satisfy many of its unmet housing needs.

This fact sheet examines how the Alabama Housing Trust Fund will enhance the state's efforts to promote affordable housing and how the fund could obtain resources with which to meet those needs.

Opening the Door: The Alabama Housing Trust Fund 2012

Alabama has a large shortfall of affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities. The state lacked more than 90,000 affordable and available homes for people with extremely low incomes, even before last year-s deadly tornadoes added that figure, according to the National low Income Housing Coalition. Legislators are considering a bill that would help Alabama address those unmet needs.

Read our Policy Choices brief on HB 110.

Opening the Door: The Alabama Housing Trust Fund 2010

Low wages affect Alabama families in many ways, and one of the most basic is housing. Almost half of Alabama renters can't afford the monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. And nearly half of the state's households don't make enough to buy a median-priced home. HB 512, a bill to establish the Alabama Housing Trust Fund, would help Alabama begin to turn these discouraging housing statistics around.

Read fact sheet here.

Locked Out: Low Wages and Affordable Housing in Alabama

This 2008 report examines the shortage of appropriate, adequate and affordable housing in Alabama.

Read full report here.

Stable Foundation: A Housing Trust Fund for Alabama

On the final day of the 2008 Regular Session, the Alabama House approved a House joint resolution establishing the Interim Alabama Housing Trust Fund Task Force.

This fact sheet describes the function of housing trust funds and outlines options the task force could pursue in developing sources of revenue to support affordable housing.

A Decent Place to Live

Alabama's Landlord-Tenant Law spells out what makes a rental dwelling livable and lists the basic rights and duties of both tenants and landlords.

This pamphlet This pamphlet outlines the major points covered by the law.

Past Due: An Alabama Landlord-Tenant Law

Tenants' rights have been an Arise legislative priority since 1993. At that time, Alabama was one of only two states that failed to provide any protection to residential renters; by 2005, we were the only state denying all such protection.

This fact sheet This fact sheet compares two competing proposals for an Alabama landlord-tenant law.

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