Preliminary Injunction – Preemption of Ordinance By Statue


City of Center Point v. Atlas Rental Property, LLC, et al., [Ms. 1210316, Aug. 26, 2022] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2022). The Court (Sellers, J.; Bolin, Wise, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., concurs in part and concurs in the result) affirms the Jefferson Circuit’s preliminary injunction concluding that the City of Center Point Ordinance No. 2019-11 is preempted by the Alabama Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (“the AURLTA”), § 35-9A-101 et seq., Ala. Code 1975. The ordinance “requires, in relevant part, that a landlord obtain a certificate of occupancy before allowing a new tenant to take possession of a rental-housing unit. Such a certificate of occupancy is valid for 12 months from the date it is issued or until the rental-housing unit becomes vacant, whichever occurs first.”

The Court concludes the plaintiffs met all the requirements for preliminary injunctive relief, namely,

A party seeking a preliminary injunction must demonstrate that (1) the party would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction, (2) the party has no adequate remedy at law, (3) the party has at least a reasonable chance of success on the ultimate merits of the case, and (4) the hardship that the injunction will impose on the opposing party will not unreasonably outweigh the benefit accruing to the party seeking the injunction. Holiday Isle, LLC v. Adkins, 12 So. 3d 1173, 1176 (Ala. 2008). Generally, “[t]he decision to grant or to deny a preliminary injunction is within the trial court’s sound discretion. In reviewing an order granting a preliminary injunction, the Court determines whether the trial court exceeded that discretion.” Holiday Isle, 12 So. 3d at 1175-76. Ms. *4, some internal quotation marks omitted.

Municipal ordinances “may be preempted by a state statute in three situations: (1) ‘when the statute defines the extent to which its enactment preempts municipal ordinances,’ (2) ‘when a municipal ordinance attempts to regulate conduct in a field that the legislature intended the state law to exclusively occupy,’ and (3) ‘when a municipal ordinance permits what a state statute forbids or forbids what a statute permits.’ Ex parte Tulley, 199 So. 3d 812, 821 (Ala. 2015).” Ms. *6.

The Court concludes the ordinance is preempted because of the second provision of Section 35-9A-121 of the AURLTA “which expressly prohibits ordinances ‘relative to residential landlords, rental housing codes, or the rights and obligations governing residential landlord and tenant relationships.’ The ordinance specifically relates to residential landlords and the rights and obligations governing the landlord-tenant relationship.” Ms. **7-8.

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