by Justin Cory
on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at 3:47pm.
As a landlord, there will come a time when you’ll need to increase the amount that you’re charging tenants for rent. Some of the most common reasons why Tennessee landlords may want to increase rent include:
To keep up with the local real estate market. You can use a rent comparison tool to gauge whether the rent amount you’re charging is at par with others in the same neighborhood.
If you wish to make improvements to the rental property. Are you looking to conduct some rental property improvements, such as put in a new HVAC system, replace the carpets, or re-do the kitchen? If you’re, then you may want to raise the rent price in order to recoup that money back.
Rising local economy. It makes financial sense to raise the rent in order to keep up with increasing housing prices.
Enhancement in the neighborhood. As a neighborhood change and improves, so should the rent you’re charging follow suit, as well. Neighborhood upgrades include green spaces, running paths, new bike trails, and upgrade to the public transportation system.
However, the Tennessee landlord-tenant laws prescribe how it must be done. You cannot just do it anyhow you want it. The following is a basic overview of Tennessee landlord-tenant law and how it relates to rent increases, put together by the team at Cory Real Estate Services.
What should you include in the lease agreement?
A lease agreement should spell out some important rent-related details, including:
The rent amount. As a landlord in Tennessee, you aren’t limited on how much rent you can charge your tenants. However, be sure to follow the Fair Housing Act and charge the same rent for everyone.
Where rent is due, such as by mail to the landlord’s office address.
When it becomes due. In Tennessee, rent becomes due on the 5th day of every month.
How the tenant should pay rent. For example, by credit card, cash, money order, or check.
Any extra fees when then the rent check bounces.
The late fees if the tenant pays it late.
When should landlords raise the rent?
A landlord must abide by the terms of the lease when it comes to increasing rent, according to Tennessee landlord-tenant law. If operating a fixed-term rental agreement, then a landlord must wait until the term ends before increasing the rent amount according to Tennessee law.
When it comes to a month-to-month rental agreement, you should provide a notice equivalent to one required for ending a lease. That being said, there is no specific legislation in this regard.
When does it become illegal to raise the rent?
Yes, there are certain situations that would make a rent increase illegal. Firstly, a landlord must not increase rent based on discriminatory reasons. In Tennessee, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against a tenant based on a protected characteristic.
Protected characteristics under Tennessee law include race, color, religion, disability, familial status, and national origin. Others are creed, sex, age, and veteran status.
A landlord may also not increase the rent of thier rental property as a retaliatory move. Tennessee tenants, just like their counterparts elsewhere in the country, have certain rights under a lease or rental agreement. And a landlord cannot try to evict, harass, or raise the rent of a tenant for exercising any of their rights.
Such rights include:
Complaining to a government agency such as s health inspector, fire department, or building inspector about unhealthy or unsafe living conditions.
Forming or joining a tenant’s union to advocate for your rights as a tenant.
Withholding rent or exercising the right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs.
Are Tennessee landlords limited in how much rent they can charge their tenants?
No. The state of Tennessee has no legislation regarding the amount of money a landlord can increase the rent by. In other words, this means that a landlord is free to charge whatever amount of rent they want.
In doing so, however, make sure not to overcharge your tenants. Overcharging your tenants will only make your rental unit less desirable to prospects, leading to longer vacancies.
Do you need to notify your tenants before raising rent in Tennessee?
Yes. Generally, landlords are required to provide their tenants with the same notice when seeking to raise the rent as they would when seeking to end a monthly agreement. As such, a landlord should make sure they provide their tenant a notice of 30 days prior to raising their rent.
How often can you raise the rent?
There is no legislation in Tennessee about the frequency of raising the rent. This means you can do it as often as you’d like.
Are there any laws about fees on bounced checks?
Yes. A landlord may be able to charge their tenant a maximum of $30 for any rent payments returned due to insufficient funds.
Are there any laws regarding late fees?
Yes. A landlord may be able to charge their tenant a maximum of 10 percent of the past due rent amount starting on the fifth day since rent became due.
Are there state laws on termination for nonpayment of rent?
Yes. Just like other states, Tennessee has specific rules and procedures when it comes to terminating a lease for nonpayment of rent. Once rent becomes due, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 14-Day Notice to Pay if they wish to evict the tenant.
If the tenant pays within 14 days, you must stop further eviction proceedings against them. However, if the tenant does not pay, then a landlord may proceed with the eviction by filing a complaint in court. This should cost the landlord about $100 depending on the county they are in.
Once the complaint and summons have been served on the tenant, the eviction hearing will take place within 6 days. If the judgment falls in the landlord's favor, the court will issue the landlord with a writ of possession. The landlord will then need to hand it over to the sheriff to enforce it on the tenant.
Disclaimer: This blog is only intended to be informational. Laws change and this post may not be updated at the time you read it. If you have questions or need further help, kindly seek expert services from a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.
The Bottom Line
Understanding the rules around increasing the rent in Tennessee will prevent you from dealing with any legal headaches or surprises caused by changing legislation. For more assistance with setting the rent price of your property investment, contact the experienced Cory Real Estate Services team today!