LSA’s High Impact Team recently filed an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Court of Alabama. The case concerns the rights of tenants to have notice before they are swiftly kicked out of their housing. Even though all the deadlines are shortened (most only seven days) for evictions, landlords still do not always try to actually serve tenants before just leaving papers on the door. The law allows landlords to serve papers by “posting,” but only after they make a reasonable effort to personally serve the tenant and only if no one is found living in the home.
LSA Attorneys Laurie McFalls, Rachele Reis, and Farah Majid recently filed an amicus brief highlighting these issues, which affect all low-income tenants. In Trinity Property Consultants, LLC v Brittony Mays, a Birmingham tenant appealed a default judgement in an eviction case. The process server posted the court papers on the tenant’s door after only knocking one time. Although the Court of Civil Appeals ultimately ruled that there was not evidence of reasonable effort to personally serve the tenant, the landlord appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.
Although LSA does not represent the tenant in this case, the Supreme Court’s decision will have a great impact on our clients. Therefore, we partnered with The Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama, The Community Action Association of Alabama, and Alabama Arise to submit this “friend of the court” brief. Many of these groups also represent the interests of actual providers of low-income housing – that is, landlords who rent to low-income tenants. It is important that all the service requirements are met so that tenants are able to protect their housing rights and defend themselves in court. LSA’s brief explains the larger impact that this issue will have on tenants in Alabama and urges the Supreme Court to affirm the Court of Civil Appeals’ interpretation of “reasonable effort” and require reasonable effort at personal service before allowing service by posting in eviction cases.
By: Rachele Reis, Mobile Office Staff Attorney, and Farah Majid, Coordinating Project Attorney