Legal Services Alabama assisting struggling renters, landlords

Legal Services Alabama helps provide legal guidance to low-income individuals.
Legal Services Alabama helps provide legal guidance to low-income individuals.(Source: WSFA)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 10:17 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Some Alabama tenants are struggling to make rent while some landlords are losing their source of income.

“Landlords have stopped water. They’ve stopped utilities altogether,” said Nicholas McKinney, an attorney and John Lewis fellow with Legal Services Alabama. He said this just a fraction of the concerns renters are having to put up with.

Legal Services Alabama takes on these issues frequently. The group helps provide legal guidance to low-income individuals.

“We are there to help even the scales, if you will,” McKinney said.

While some renters are waiting for appliances to be fixed, others are without power. On the flip side, some renters destroy their landlord’s property. These are the issues attorneys take on.

“Most of the time if it’s a destructive tenant, then it’s not an issue of not paying rent, it’s an issue of just having a destructive tenant,” he said.

One of the biggest issues Legal Services Alabama is seeing right now is actually a result of the pandemic – evictions.

“It’s continuing because it’s a ripple effect,” McKinney said. “The issues that started when we were in the heaviest part of the pandemic are still continuing now.”

The attorney highly recommends those struggling during this time to apply for rental assistance.

Funds come from a $263 million congressional grant. The most recent numbers from the Emergency Rental Assistance Alabama website show over $53 million have been paid out, helping over 9,600 households.

While disputes can be settled in the courtroom, the attorney believes it is best to clearly communicate with the other party.

“Right now, it actually stems on both parties being able to come to an agreement, and the agreement is that the landlord needs to be flexible,” McKinney said. “I know it’s hard, but they do need to be flexible, and the renter then needs to apply for emergency rental assistance.”

Those needing legal help can visit the Legal Services Alabama website or call at 866-456-4995.

Offices are in Montgomery, Selma, Dothan, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Anniston and Huntsville.

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