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The state of Tennessee has always been a great place regarding the rental market. It has many big cities with several rental opportunities that both landlords and tenants can make the most of. It's important to note that all states in the U.S. have a set of rules and regulations that every party involved must follow to comply with particular state laws.

In this case, we're talking about the Tennessee landlord-tenant laws, which provide you with everything you need to get started on your rental case. While most states share the same general guidelines, it's good to keep an eye out for specific details that may help you depending on your area. To make things easier for everyone, we're providing an overview of these legal rules so that you can adapt them to your rental agreement document.

Keep in mind that this is general information for rental laws in Tennessee. If you need specific information for your case, make sure to contact a lawyer for legal advice.

Is Tennessee a Landlord-Friendly State?

As of today, Tennessee is considered a fairly landlord-friendly state since there are few rent control policies for landlords. However, there are several laws that give leverage to tenants in cases of dispute, which is why it may also be considered tenant-friendly in some cases.

What Should be Included in a Rental Agreement in Tennessee?

As said before, rental guidelines may vary depending on the state. In this case, the regulations for Tennessee tenants and landlords can be found in both the Tennessee Code Annotated (Title 66) and the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. While a landlord may include as many clauses as they consider appropriate, there is a list of general guidelines that apply to every case.

Here's an overview of what a rental agreement in Tennessee should include:

  • Description of the leased property.
  • Information about all the people involved in the lease.
  • Rent conditions (Late fees, grace period, increases, etc.)
  • Security deposits.
  • Miscellaneous clauses required by the landlord.

What Are Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities?

Both the landlord and tenant have a set of obligations that they must follow at all times throughout the tenancy period. If they don't comply with all obligations, they may be exposed to legal action from the other party.

Rights

Overall, landlords have the right to maintain their property in a clean and safe condition, collect payments when rent is due, and collect a security deposit to cover excessive damages to the property or unpaid bills. If the tenant violates any of the terms of the lease agreement, the landlord has the right to pursue a proper eviction case.

Responsibilities

Landlords are required to provide a habitable dwelling unit for their tenant; this unit should comply with health and safety regulations at all times so that there aren't any disputes in the future. On the other hand, landlords must provide repairs for essential services if the tenant requests them. These repairs must be done promptly (usually within 14 days of notice).

Aside from keeping up with local building and housing codes, the landlord also has to maintain appropriate receptacles for waste materials; this is to keep the property in a fit and habitable condition.

What Are Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities?

Rights

Tenants in Tennessee have the legal right to live in a habitable unit that complies with fair housing regulations. Additionally, they have the right not to be discriminated against for any reason. In order to provide and maintain appropriate living conditions, a tenant may contact the landlord to request repairs (if needed). If the landlord fails to provide these repairs within 14 days, tenant rights allow them to pursue alternative action, such as their repair and deduct right.

Responsibilities

Every tenant must pay rent when it's due to avoid any problems with their landlord. However, there are some other rules and regulations that a tenant must comply with at all times. Aside from paying rent on time, here are the main things that tenants have to do on a regular basis:

  • Keep the premises and common areas in a clean and secure condition.
  • Not disturb other neighbors and tenants.
  • Provide small repairs and maintenance to common appliances.

It's important to note that to keep all common areas in good condition, Tennessee tenants may not deliberately or negligently destroy or damage any part of the unit.

Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws - General Clauses

These are the primary guidelines that you should always include in your lease agreement since they involve the foundation of everything. Each clause may be adjusted to fit the landlord's needs, as long as it's compliant with the state law.

Rent Payments

Currently, the landlord may charge their tenant any rent price that they consider appropriate; this is because there are no rent control policies in the state. Unless stated otherwise in the agreement, rent is due at the beginning of each month.

There are no limits on how much you can increase rent prices, meaning that landlords are free to raise the rent as much as they need to. Since the Tennessee landlord-tenant law doesn't establish any specific information, it's supposed that landlords don't have to give their tenant advanced notice before raising the rent.

Finally, a tenant is allowed to withhold rent from their landlord if they fail to provide decent living conditions or services.

Late Fees and Grace Periods

Landlords can charge fees if they consider it fit for their needs. These fees are usually included in the lease since they work as motivation for the tenant to pay rent. If the landlord decides to charge fees, their amount may not be higher than 10% of the monthly rent cost.

As for the grace period, Tennessee law dictates that landlords must wait five days after rent is due to charge fees. When that happens, the landlord may send the tenant a 30-day notice to cure or quit. If the tenant doesn't respond within 30 days, the landlord can start eviction processes.

Security Deposit

According to Tennessee law, a landlord isn't required to collect a security deposit from their tenant if they don't want to. However, it's recommended to do it since it can be used to cover unexpected expenses.

First, there aren't any limits on the amount of deposit that a landlord must charge, but it's suggested that the amount is reasonable for the tenant. In most cases, the value of a security deposit is equal to one month of rent.

The landlord must return the security deposit to their tenant at least 30 days after the tenant stated their desire to leave the property. If the landlord withholds rent without reason after these 30 days, the tenant may seek legal aid.

In the case that the landlord plans to withhold the security deposit, they must provide an itemized list of deductions. Generally, a deposit can be used to cover the following:

  • Unpaid rent/utilities.
  • Excessive wear and tear to the property.
  • Miscellaneous violations to the lease.

The tenant has 60 days to respond to this request; if the tenant fails to do this, they're going to lose their right to collect it.

Lease Termination and Evictions

According to the Tennessee landlord-tenant law, a tenant can terminate the lease if they want to. However, they must spend a minimum amount of notice before leaving. Here's an overview of the minimum notice required for each type of tenancy.

  • Weekly Lease - 10 days' notice.
  • Monthly Lease - 30 days' notice.
  • Quarterly Lease - Non-applicable.
  • Yearly Lease - Non-applicable.

On the other hand, tenants can break the lease early for any of the following reasons:

  • Breaches in the lease.
  • Landlord harassment.
  • Active military duty.
  • Unacceptable living conditions.
  • Early termination clause.

Landlords in Tennessee can terminate the lease and pursue an eviction process for any of the following reasons:

  • Breach in the Lease: 14 days' notice to cure or quit.
  • Nonpayment of Rent: Five-day notice. If the tenant fails to pay within this time frame, landlords must send a 14-day notice to pay or quit.
  • Criminal Activity: Three-day notice to quit.

At-will tenants have the right to receive 30 days' notice before getting evicted. After these 30 days, the tenant must leave to prevent any legal disputes with their landlord.

State laws also establish that if the agreement required the tenant to have utility services placed in their name, they have 10 days to do this process. If they don't comply within these 10 days of notice, the landlord can terminate the utility services if they're in their name.

See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for Tennessee.

eviction process and laws for Tennessee

Conclusion

When it comes to rental laws, Tennessee is a fairly flexible state. There are many opportunities for both landlords and tenants in this area, as long as they comply with all the guidelines of the landlord-tenant laws.

If you need any extra legal advice, make sure to contact a lawyer.

FAQs

Does the landlord have to inform the tenant about lead based paint in the property?

The landlord must disclose information regarding lead paint concentrations in their property if it was built before 1978, as well as a copy of EPA's pamphlet.

What is the limit in the small claims court in Tennessee?

A small claims court in this state can hear rental and leasing disputes of up to $25,000. Rental cases have a six-year statute of limitations, and other disputes have a three-year statute of limitations.

Does the landlord have the right to enter the property in Tennessee?

A landlord isn't required to provide any notice before they enter the property. However, it's good practice to agree upon a notice system with the tenant. If the landlord wants to enter within the last 30 days of the lease, they must send a 24-hour notice.

On the other hand, if the landlord wants to enter to execute a move out inspection, they have to provide 30 days of notice. If the tenant wants to leave the premises for some time, they have to provide a seven-day notice.

How is housing discrimination prevented in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Human Rights Commission and the Fair Housing Act protect tenants from being discriminated against based on their race, nationality, color, sex, religion, familial status, or disability.

Resources

  1. Tennessee Code Unannotated
  2. Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his two children, he's writing articles here!