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Eviction and Unlawful Detainer vs. Ejectment – How Do They Differ?


Are you a landlord trying to remove bad tenants from your property or a creditor trying to get former homeowners to leave a foreclosed property? Do you have a friend or family member squatting on your property?

You know that there has to be a way to regain control of your property, but may not be sure how to even start. You also have to factor in the legality of your actions. 

Let’s look at the options available to property owners in the state of Alabama who need to remove unwelcome people from their property.

What Options Are Available to Property Owners?

There are two options available in the state of Alabama to landlords and creditors when it comes to the issue of removing unwelcome people from your property.

  • Eviction and Unlawful Detainer
  • Ejection

The method you choose is based on multiple factors, including (but not limited to): 

  • Whether or not you have a landlord/tenant relationship in place, which may or may not include a formal lease agreement
  • Whether the person you are trying to remove is a tenant, former homeowner of a foreclosed property, or an individual your formerly authorize to occupy the property, but now want to leave
  • If you are seeking monetary damages

Option #1. Eviction and Unlawful Detainer

Alabama’s Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, §35-9A-101 et seq. establishes a streamlined procedure for evictions in the state. An action for Unlawful Detainer is an eviction case. It allows for the possession of the property to be returned to the owner faster and more efficiently.

If you have a landlord/tenant relationship with the occupant, whether or not you have a residential lease with a tenant, an eviction is most likely the course of action that you would take to have that tenant removed from your rental unit.

When an occupant is provided with any equity or ownership in the property as they make their rent payments, an ejection action (in place of an eviction) may need to be taken for their interest in the property to be terminated. This may be the case if your agreement with the occupant is a contract for deed, lease-purchase, or some similar agreement.

Evictions are also not an option for creditors needing to remove a prior homeowner from a foreclosed property. In this case, the creditor must pursue an ejection.

The most common reason that a landlord would file an eviction is due to non-payment of rent, but other violations could cause a landlord to begin the eviction process as well. Prior to filing the eviction, the tenant must be notified by the landlord of the issue and given a chance to resolve it. In other words, a tenant must be given an opportunity to cure his or her default. 

After providing an opportunity to cure default, and the tenant having failed to do so, the first step of the eviction process is that the landlord must serve a copy of the complaint on the property entrance so that it is visible to the tenant. If the landlord is pursuing a judgment for monetary damages, the complaint must be personally served to the tenant. The tenant then has seven days to respond to the complaint.   

Eviction or Unlawful Detainer proceedings must be initiated in the District Court (landlord-tenant court). 

Option #2. Ejection

You would need to pursue an ejection if you do not have a landlord/tenant relationship with the person residing on the property.  

An ejection is often a creditor’s action to remove a former homeowner from a foreclosed property. 

In the case of an ejection, the defendant must be personally served with the complaint, and they have 30 days to respond.  

Ejections are filed in the Circuit Court. The full range of discovery is available to both the Plaintiff and Defendant in Circuit Court. Ejection cases tend to take a lot longer to get to trial than a simple eviction process in the District Court.

Need Help with Your Eviction, Ejectment, or Unlawful Detainer? Let the Professionals Help!

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to contact Brackin Law Firm to speak directly to one of our attorneys, who can discuss your case in detail and provide you with further information about your options. We will take the guesswork out of figuring out the best method to regain control of your property, and we will be by your side throughout the entire process.

From start to finish, you can rest assured that your needs and the result you desire are our primary focus. We create a detailed plan to make sure we are putting your needs first throughout the entire process. We make changes to our strategy accordingly to take advantage of every opportunity presented throughout the process, remaining focused on your desired outcome.

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