A summary of Tennessee Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.
Required Disclosures (by Landlords)
Contact Information: The landlord or any person authorized to enter into a rental agreement on the landlord’s behalf must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the agent authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person or agent authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the acceptance of service of process and for receipt of notices and demands. (Tenn. Code Ann. §66-28-302)
Showing Property: Landlord may enter to show the premises to prospective renters during the final 30 days of a tenancy (with 24 hours’ notice), but only if this right of access is set forth in the rental agreement or lease. (Tenn. Code Ann. §66-28-403)
Security Deposit Limit
There is no state legislated limit for security deposits. However, the security deposit must be kept in a separate account and the location must be disclosed to the tenant. Counties that have a population of less than 75,000, according to the federal census, are exempt from this requirement.
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit
The security deposit must be returned within 30 days after tenant vacates and must provide advance notice before taking any deductions for damage or missing items.
Small Claims Lawsuits
The General Sessions Court has no monetary limit for eviction suits, but all other disputes (including landlord-tenant) have a limit of $25,000.
A late fee cannot be charged until the rent is five days past due. If the fifth day falls on a Sunday or observed holiday and the rent is paid on the next business day, a late fee cannot be charged. The maximum fee cannot exceed 10% of the past due rent.
There is no state law regulating the amount of notice required to change any term of a lease, but using a 30 day notice to make changes for a month-to-month agreement is generally accepted. Howver, changing the terms of longer agreements must be agreed to by both parties.
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent
In limited situations, a tenant may have the right to withhold rent if the landlord neglects to maintain a habitable and safe property. See Tennessee Code Ann. § 68-111-104 or more information. As an alternative to waiting, tenants may also have the ability to fix landlord neglected issues and deduct the cost from the rent according to Tennessee Code Ann. § 66-28-502.
Termination and Eviction
Tennessee Code Ann. § 66-28-505(a) grants landlords the right to use an unconditional notice to quit within 14 days on any tenant repeating an act which violates the lease or rental agreement or affects health or safety twice within 6 months (notice must have been given for the first violation).
Tennessee Code Ann. § 66-28-505(d) states that all other lease violations allow the tenant time to correct the problem by serving them with 14 day notice to cure; tenant has an additional 16 to vacate (unless a very similar act or omission was the cause for a previous notice issued within six months).
Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-3-606 allows the court to grant possession of the residence to the petitioner to the exclusion of the respondent. However, if the respondent is the sole owner or lessee of the residence, the court may direct the respondent to “provide suitable alternative housing.”
Tennessee Lease Agreement
Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes
Tennessee Code Ann. §§ 66-28-101 to 66-28-521.