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Understanding the Difference Between Eviction and Ejectment in Alabama


In Alabama, when it comes to property disputes involving landlords, tenants, and occupants, the legal landscape offers two main avenues: eviction and ejectment. While both processes involve removing individuals from a property, they have distinct differences in terms of legal grounds, procedures, and applicable laws.


What it Entails

Eviction is a legal recourse landlords use to oust tenants from rental properties due to lease breaches like nonpayment of rent or violations of the rental agreement. The Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (AURLTA), found in Ala. Code §§ 35-9A-101 to 35-9A-603, lays down the rules for eviction in Alabama.

Why it Happens

Grounds for eviction under AURLTA include:

  • Rent Arrears: If tenants fail to pay rent, landlords must issue a seven-day written notice detailing the owed amount, giving tenants a chance to settle the debt within that period (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(b)).
  • Breach of Lease: For violations other than nonpayment, landlords must serve a 7-day notice for tenants to rectify the breach. Failure to comply can lead to termination of the rental agreement (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(a)).
  • Illegal Activity: Tenants engaged in illegal acts on the property can be evicted with a seven-day notice (Ala. Code § 35-9A-421(d)).

How it Works

The eviction process unfolds as follows:

  • Notice: Landlords must serve the appropriate notice as specified by AURLTA.
  • Filing a Lawsuit: If tenants ignore the notice, landlords can initiate a lawsuit in district court (Ala. Code § 35-9A-461).
  • Court Hearing: Both parties present their cases in court. If the ruling favors the landlord, they receive a possession judgment.
  • Executing the Judgment: If tenants don’t vacate within seven days, landlords can seek a court-issued writ of possession to physically remove them (Ala. Code § 35-9A-461(e)).


What it Entails

Ejectment is a legal remedy to reclaim property from unauthorized occupants, such as squatters or former owners who remain post-foreclosure. Unlike eviction, which deals with landlord-tenant dynamics, ejectment operates in scenarios devoid of such relationships. It’s governed by different statutes within the Alabama Code, specifically Ala. Code §§ 6-6-280 to 6-6-294.

  • Occupancy Without Right: Individuals occupy property without legal entitlement.
  • Ownership Disputes: Conflicts over property ownership or right to possess arise.

How it Works

Ejectment proceeds as follows:

  • Filing a Complaint: Property owners submit a complaint in the circuit court where the property lies, outlining their claim to possession (Ala. Code § 6-6-280).
  • Serving Legal Papers: Defendants are served the complaint and given an opportunity to respond.
  • Court Proceedings: The court reviews evidence from both sides. Plaintiffs must substantiate their legal right to possession.
  • Rendering Judgment: If the court sides with the plaintiff, it grants a possession judgment, potentially leading to the sheriff removing the defendant (Ala. Code § 6-6-291).

Key Differences

Legal Dynamics

  • Eviction: Tied to landlord-tenant relationships
  • Ejectment: Applies when no such relationship exists, dealing with wrongful occupancy.

Legal Framework

  • Eviction: Governed by AURLTA (Ala. Code §§ 35-9A-101 to 35-9A-603).
  • Ejectment: Governed by specific statutes in the Alabama Code (Ala. Code §§ 6-6-280 to 6-6-294).

Judicial Venue

  • Eviction: Typically handled in district court.
  • Ejectment: Filed in circuit court.

Notice Mechanisms

  • Eviction: Requires statutory notice periods (e.g., seven or 14 days).
  • Ejectment: Involves filing a complaint and serving legal papers but lacks specific notice requirements like eviction, even though doing so may be good practice.

Understanding the distinctions between eviction and ejectment is crucial for property owners and occupants in Alabama. Eviction is a streamlined process designed to address lease violations within landlord-tenant relationships, governed by the AURLTA. In contrast, ejectment deals with wrongful occupation outside such relationships and involves a more complex legal process in circuit court. Properly navigating these procedures requires knowledge of the relevant statutes and adherence to procedural requirements.

At Brackin Law Firm we have handled thousands of evictions and evictions. Please contact us today to discuss how to proceed with your property concerns.

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