by Justin Cory
on Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 at 1:59pm.
Being home to several large cities, Tennessee is estimated to have a whopping 6.65 million residents. These include Nashville, with a population of 684,410 (33% being renters), and Memphis, with a population of 657,167 (17% being renters).
With this many renters, the Tennessee landlord-tenant laws are actually quite landlord-friendly. In other words, as a landlord, the cards may be stacked in your favor.
In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at a basic overview of Tennessee landlord-tenant law. Understanding these laws can help you best serve your tenants based on Tennessee tenant rights and avoid potential legal issues.
A Guide to Tennessee Rental Laws
Required Landlord Disclosures in Tennessee
Under the Tennessee landlord-tenant law, landlords must disclose certain information to their tenants prior to lease signing. The disclosures are as follows:
Name and address of the landlord or the person authorized to manage the property on their behalf.
Disclosure on lead paint. As per federal law, a property owner must disclose all information regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards prior to lease signing.
If carrying out a final walkthrough inspection, ensure the same is mentioned in the Tennessee residential rental agreement.
Disclose both your own and your tenant’s duties.
Tennessee Renters Rights & Responsibilities
In the state of Tennessee, tenants have a right to:
Live in peace and quiet.
Live in a habitable dwelling that meets all the local health, safety, building, and housing codes.
Form or join a tenant union to advocate for their legal rights.
Have any requested repairs done within a reasonable amount of time.
Be notified when the landlord wishes to make a change to the lease, including increases in rent.
Withhold further rent payments in case the landlord fails to provide essential services or if the landlord doesn't provide a habitable rental unit.
Tennessee tenants are also responsible for ensuring:
Ensuring the rental property follows all local health, safety, and building codes.
Notifying tenants when changes are made to the lease, including increases in rent.
Following the proper eviction process when carrying it out.
Making agreed and requested repairs promptly.
Overview of Tennessee Lease Agreement Laws
1. Landlord Entry
Tennessee landlords have a right to enter rented premises. However, there exists no general requirement that landlords must give notice prior to entering the premises. The only exception to this is if you’re looking to show the unit in the last 30 days. In such a case, you’d need to serve the tenant with a 24 hours’ notice.
You aren’t required to provide the tenant with any notice in case of an emergency.
2. Small Claims Court
Small claims courts in Tennessee are designed to handle disputes between parties about relatively small matters. Each state has its own limit in regards to the lawsuit amount that can be filed in such courts. In the state of Tennessee, that limit is $25,000.
3. The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in regards to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or familial status. The Fair Housing Act doesn’t, however, apply to homes operated by religious organizations or owner-occupied homes.
The following are things that may be in violation of this Act:
Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges to different tenants.
Lying about the availability of the rental premises.
Creating an advertisement that encourages or discourages certain classes of people from making an application.
Failing to make reasonable accommodations for disabled persons.
4. Tenant Evictions
When evicting a tenant you must follow the state's eviction laws. For one, landlords must provide tenants with the proper eviction notice based on the type of lease violation commited. As a landlord, you can evict a tenant for any of the following reasons under the Tennessee landlord-tenant law:
If you find out that a tenant is engaging in illegal behavior. In such a case, you may serve them a 3-Days’ Notice to Quit. If the tenant doesn’t do so after 3 days lapse, you can move to court for further help.
If a tenant violates a term of a rental agreement. In counties with a population exceeding 75,000 residents, you may issue the tenant with a 14-Days’ Cure or Quit Notice. But in counties with less than that number, you must issue the tenant with at least a 30-days’ Quit Notice.
If a tenant fails to make their rent payment. Tennessee requires landlords to give their tenants a grace period of 5 days. If the tenant still doesn’t pay after the 5 days, you can issue the tenant with a 14-days written notice. After 14 days, you can begin the formal eviction proceedings.
5. Security Deposit Laws
Tennessee law has provisions relating to security deposits. The states security deposit law defines various things, including:
The amount they can ask for security deposits. While there is no specific figure, landlords are required to charge a 'reasonable' amount.
How they can store the tenant's security deposit. Tennessee landlords must store a tenant’s deposit in a financial institution that’s subject to either state or federal regulations.
When they should return the security deposits. They must do so 30 days after the tenant terminates the Tennessee rental agreement.
The kind of situations that can warrant a landlord to withhold part or all of the deposit.
Disclaimer: The information herein is not meant to be a substitute for professional legal advice. If you need further help, please seek qualified legal services. Alternatively, hire the services of a reputable property management company in Tennessee. Cory Real Estate Services can help!