Recently, the Andalusia Housing Authority requested an Attorney General’s opinion regarding service of a Notice of Termination Letter on a tenant. The Housing Authority wanted to know if service could be made by regular mail delivery to the tenant’s address of record. Although the opinion was addressed to the housing authority, it relies on general principles of Alabama law that apply to all landlords.
The Attorney General’s office noted that the lease in question was a standard HUD lease that did not expressly state how notice should be delivered, except that it had to comply with Alabama law. Looking next to Alabama law, there is no mandatory method of serving the notice.
The law specifically mentions that personal service is okay, which includes giving it to the tenant personally, or leaving it with some person above the age of 18 years, “residing on or in possession of the premises.” If no one is in actual possession of the premises, then you can post the notice on the premises.
- The italicized language above applies when the property has been abandoned. It does NOT apply to the situation that comes up when you attempt to serve a copy of the Notice, but no one is home at that particular time. The “nail and mail” procedure, you are probably familiar with, applies to serving the eviction lawsuit papers, NOT serving the notice of termination letter. Don’t get tripped up by the difference between these two.
Service by mailing the notice is okay, but only if the tenant acknowledges receipt, or the landlord is otherwise able to prove the tenant received it.
Bottom line of the Attorney General’s opinion: service of the lease termination notice can be made by regular mail, but you run into problems if the tenant later denies ever receiving the letter. Personal service is best.
For you lawyers, that was Attorney General Opinion 2013-053, on June 4, 2013. You can download a copy HERE.