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Tennessee Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

Published by ezLandlordForms on

Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws SummaryHow much can I charge for rent?
The state of Tennessee does not restrict the amount of rent a landlord is permitted to charge. Additionally, there is no established rent control or stabilization.

May I charge a late fee?
There shall be a 5 day grace period between the day the rent was due and the day a fee for the late payment of rent may be charged. If the last day of the 5 day grace period occurs on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the landlord shall not impose any charge or fee for the late payment of rent, provided that the rent is paid on the next business day. Any charge or fee, however described, which is charged by the landlord for the late payment of rent shall not exceed 10% of the amount of rent past due.

Please Note: No charge or fee for the late payment of rent due from a tenant in a public housing project shall exceed $5.00 per month. No late charge or fee shall be assessed such tenant unless more than 15 days have elapsed since the rent was due.

May I charge a returned payment fee?
The service or handling charge may not exceed $30.00.

Is it required to register as a landlord?
Yes, a landlord's registration is required!
Landlord's who own 1 or more dwelling units are required to furnish the following, to the agency or department of local government that is responsible for enforcing building codes in the jurisdiction where the dwelling units are located:
1. The landlord's name, address and telephone number, or the name, address and telephone number of the landlord's agent.
2. The street address and unit number, as appropriate, for each dwelling unit that the landlord owns, leases, or subleases or has the right to own, lease, or sublease.

Please Note: This information shall be furnished on a form provided by the agency or department responsible for enforcing building codes. The agency or department is authorized to collect from a landlord filing the form a fee not to exceed $10.00 per year.

Important: Any landlord who fails to register as required may be assessed a fine in the amount of $50.00 per week by the agency or department of local government that is responsible for enforcing building codes in the jurisdiction where the dwelling unit(s) are located.

Is there a limit on the amount I may collect for a security deposit?
There are no stated regulations regarding a limit on the amount that may be charged for a security deposit, however, it should not be an amount that may be considered unconscionable.

The security deposit must be held in a separate account, in any financial institution regulated by the state of Tennessee or any agency of the United States government and tenants shall be informed of the location of the separate account.

After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send the security deposit back?
After landlords request for a tenant to vacate or within 5 days after landlord receives written notice that tenant is vacating the premises, the landlord may issue the tenant a notice to let the tenant know that he/she may be present for a rental unit inspection. The landlord may request that this inspection be completed on the day the tenant moves everything out of the rental unit or within 4 days after the tenant completely vacates.

After a tenant vacates from the rental unit before ANY work is done to prepare the premises for the next occupant and within 10 days, an inspection must be completed.

The tenant has the right to be present for this inspection unless certain conditions apply such as:

If after the inspection, damages are found:
1. Tenant is present at the inspection: Both landlord and tenant should sign the inspection report. This provides proof that both landlord and tenant are in agreement. If tenant does not agree with any damages, the tenant may bring suit against the landlord.
2. If tenant is not present during the inspection If no damages are found and no money is owed to the landlord by the tenant then the landlord should return the full deposit to the tenant.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
It is very important to follow ALL regulations and laws surrounding the handling of a security deposit from receiving it to returning it. Failing to do so, can be a large problem for a landlord.

What are the rules for ending a lease agreement?
Week to Week Tenancies: The landlord or tenant must give the other at least 10 days notice prior to the termination date specified in the notice.
Month to Month Tenancies: The landlord or tenant must give the other at least 30 days notice prior to the termination date specified in the notice.
Fixed Term Tenancies: The landlord or tenant must give the other at least 30 days notice or notice as specified within the lease, prior to the termination date or if no notice is given, the lease ends at the end of the term and the tenant must vacate.

Beware: Landlords must provide 60 days notice to increase rent.

How much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?
14 days' notice by a landlord shall be sufficient notice of termination of tenancy for the purpose of eviction of a residential tenant, if the termination of tenancy is for one of the following reasons:

  • tenant has not requested an inspection;
  • abandonment of the rental unit;
  • eviction;
  • not responding to the landlord’s notification of the mutual inspection;
  • not showing up to the mutually agreed upon inspection or is not available for the landlord to contact.
    • (1) Tenant neglect or refusal to pay rent that is due and is in arrears, upon demand
    • (2) Damage beyond normal wear and tear to the premises by the tenant, members of the household, or guests; or
    • (3) The tenant or any other person on the premises with the tenant's consent willfully or intentionally commits a violent act or behaves in a manner which constitutes or threatens to be a real and present danger to the health, safety or welfare of the life or property of other tenants, the landlord, the landlord's representatives or other persons on the premises.
    • (4) For all other defaults in the lease agreement, a 30 day termination notice from the date such notice is given by the landlord shall be required for the purpose of eviction of a residential tenant.

I have sent my tenant an eviction notice; he has not complied. What do I do next?

If the tenant does not remedy the breach or make payment of arrearages, the landlord may bring suit in court for possession and damages.

Please Note: If the landlord accepts rent without reservation and with knowledge of a tenant default, the landlord by such acceptance condones the default and thereby waives his/her right and is then prevented from terminating the rental agreement as to that breach.

How long does it usually take for eviction?
It depends and varies, but could take approximately 4-6 weeks to obtain possession.

What must I do to inspect my property? Do I have to notify the tenant?
The tenant shall not unreasonably with-hold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers or contractors.

The landlord may enter the dwelling unit without consent in cases of emergency. "Emergency" means a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter's insurance?
There are no statutory regulations regarding the requirement of a tenant by a landlord to obtain rental insurance.

I want to create a Lease Purchase for my tenant; do I need to know anything?
The State of Tennessee has specific laws and criteria for Lease Purchase Agreements. Information may be found at:
TENNESSEE RENTAL PURCHASE AGREEMENT ACT

Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?
If the leased premises was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must provide all tenants with the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and the Lead-Based Paint EPA Pamphlet.

Disclosure: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Please feel free to ask any questions about Tennessee leasing laws in our expert landlord forum, and review further Tennessee rental resources here.

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