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Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws

Tennessee Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for Tennessee landlords.  We summarize key Tennessee Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified for legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Tennessee Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state-level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Tennessee.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Tennessee

Tennessee landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord-friendly.

There are 6.8m  residents in Tennessee.  Major metropolitan markets in Tennessee are:

  1. Nashville: Estimated population of 1,934,317, which 35% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $1,030.
  2. Memphis: Estimated population of 1,346,045, which 40% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $887.
  3. Knoxville: Estimated population of 869,046, which 33% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $803.
  4. Chattanooga: Estimated population of 565,194, which 35% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $795.
  5. Clarksville: Estimated population of 307,820, which 42% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $907.
  6. Kingsport: Estimated population of 306,946, which 27% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $629.
  7. Johnson City: Estimated population of 204,044, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $916.
  8. Jackson: Estimated population of 178,644, which 35% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $834.
  9. Morristown: Estimated population of 142,749, which 30% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $671.
  10. Cleveland: Estimated population of 124,942, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $728.

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN TENNESSEE

 

Does Tennessee require security deposits?

Tennessee does not require security deposits, however, if accepted then there are laws and regulations.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Tennessee?

No statute.  It is generally recommended to still send a receipt of at least the date, the total amount received, and its purpose.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Tennessee?

Tennessee does not state a limit on security deposits.  Generally, landlords will charge one to one-and-a-half month’s rent for a security deposit.

 

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in Tennessee:

The security deposit must be stored in a bank or financial institution that is subject to Tennessee state and federal regulations.  Landlords must provide a written notice with the location and name of the institution.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(a))

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Tennessee?

Landlords cannot commingle deposits with their personal funds.

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Tennessee?

Landlords are not required to share the interest earned for deposits.  No statute.

  

 

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Tennessee?

Landlords must return the security deposits within 30 days after the termination of the lease and delivery of possession by the tenant. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(g)(1))

 

When can a landlord in Tennessee withhold a security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit for (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(g)(1)):

  • Unpaid rent and/or fees
  • Damages beyond normal wear-and-tear
  • Damages from breach of lease

 

 

 

Nonrefundable fees:

No Statute.

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

No statute on pet security deposits.

 

Require a written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide a written and itemized list of damages that are delivered.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(2))

 

What happens to Tennessee landlords that fail to comply with returning the security deposit?

No statute.

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN TENNESSEE

 

Rental agreements required in Tennessee:

Rental agreements are required for leases 12 months or longer.  We always recommend having a legal lease agreement to prevent future complications.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Tennessee rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in Tennessee?

Tennessee requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • MUST:  Conditions of occupancy
  • MUST:  Description of the rental unit
  • MUST:  Security deposit amount and terms
  • MUST:  Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • MUST:  Security deposit amount and terms
  • MUST:  Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • MUST:  Rent Amount and Due Date.Provision defining automatic renewal
  • MUST:  Pet policies
  • Late Fees and Penalties
  • Landlords name, address, and phone number
  • Length of the lease agreement
  • Tenants name, address, and phone number
  • Landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Occupancy by children or pets
  • Required deposits and the conditions for their refund
  • Inspection rights by the landlord
  • Other fees
  • Address of rental property
  • Subleasing policy
  • Cleaning Fees

 

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Tennessee:

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: No statute as leases expire.

Month-to-Month: Must provide at least 30 days’ written notice at any time. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(b))  Read our guide on Month-to-Month rent.

Week-to-Week: Must provide at least 10 day’s written notice with the termination date specified in the notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(a))

 

Rent Increase Notice:

No statute.  Commonly in other states, landlords provide at least one month’s notice.

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

Tennessee has a 5 day grace period that landlords must wait before sending a written notice.  Excludes Sundays and legal holidays.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))

 

 

Prepaid Rent:

No statute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN TENNESSEE

Late Fees for Residential:

Tennessee landlords can charge a late fee 5 days after the rent due date.  Late fees are limited to 10% of past-due rent.  After this time, landlords can provide a 30 day notice to cure and if the tenant fails to pay rent then the lease is terminated.   (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In Tennessee, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Tennessee?

Tennessee landlords must wait 5 days before sending a 14-day notice.  If tenants pay on or before the 5th day, the tenant has cured their breach of the lease. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-109 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-505)

Anderson, Blount, Bradley, Davidson, Hamilton, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, Sumner and Knox county all allow landlords to provide a 14 day notice.  And if the tenant commits the same act within a 6 month period, landlords can provide a 7-day notice without allowing the opportunity to cure.

 

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

Landlords must provide a 30 day notice to remedy or cure the violation.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-109 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-505)

 

 

Any actions that result in an immediate lease termination?

Landlords may provide a 7 day notice if tenants commit the same act within a six month period that breaches the lease agreement.

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Tennessee requires landlords to provide a habitable property for tenants to live and enjoy.  There are specific provisions defining how tenants can remedy repairs if the landlord fails to do so. 

How many days must the tenant give for non-emergency repairs? 

Tennessee state landlords must be given 30 days notice to correct the condition. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-111-104(a))

 

Can tenants withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Tennessee allows the tenant the following remedies to handle repairs if the landlord fails (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-502)

  • Pay for essential services during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable costs from the rent
  • Recover damages based upon the reduction in fair rental value of the dwelling unit, provided tenant continues to occupy premises
  • Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance

 

 

TENNESSEE LANDLORD LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Landlords have an obligation to the tenants, which include (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-304):

  • Remain in compliance with all applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
  • Make repairs to keep premises in a fit and habitable condition
  • Keep all common areas of the property in a clean and safe condition
  • In a multi-unit complex (4+ units), provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste from common points of collection.

 

 

 

TENNESSEE TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Generally, tenants must dispose of all rubbish and garbage, refrain from unreasonable use of electrical, heating, and plumbing fixtures, meet all obligations lawfully by the code enforcement agency, refrain from willfully destroying or damaging the structure, take in additional occupants, rent or sublease without the owner’s consent.   (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-401)

 

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE EVICTION LAWS

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In Tennessee, it is illegal for landlords to cause the tenant to quit the rental unit involuntarily.

Are landlords allowed to lockout tenants by changing locks?

The landlord cannot change or remove the doors or locks.

 

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

If a written rental agreement requires the tenant to have utility services placed in the tenant’s name and the tenant fails to do so within 3 days of occupying, the landlord may have the utility services terminated if the existing utility service is in name of the landlord.

However, landlords cannot turn off utilities to force a tenant to move out if it is passed the 3 day mark.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-521)

Do landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages when re-renting the rental unit?

Yes.  Landlords must attempt to minimize damages. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-507)

 

 

 

TENNESSEE LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Tennessee laws state a landlord cannot terminate a lease, refuse a lease renewal or raise rents, terminate a periodic tenancy, or threaten to bring an action of possession when (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-514):

 

  • Tenant submitted, or threatened to, a complaint to a government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has sent written complaints to the landlords about repairs
  • Tenant has exercised any lawful they are entitled to

 

Massachusetts does not define a period that would result in retaliatory action. Other states typically range from 6 months to 1 year.

 

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

Tennessee does not have any law to protect victims of domestic violence.  Burbz encourages landlords to work with their tenants for safety and health.  A general good practice is allowing the victim to terminate the lease with a 30-day notice and victims should provide proof of documentation. 

If you are a victim, please search The Tennessee Coalition To End Domestic Violence & Sexual Violence  site for a helpline:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

 

 

 

TENNESSEE LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

Tennessee does not have any statewide laws regarding locks for landlords.  The tenant cannot remove, replace, or add a lock without the written permission from the landlord.  If the tenant does with permission, they must provide the landlord with a key. 

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws does have any specific pet laws.  The lease agreement needs to state whether pets are allowed and any type of pet deposit that will be charged.

Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more. 

Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN TENNESSEE NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do need a rental license in Tennessee.  Landlords must disclose:

  • The landlord’s name, address and telephone number, or the name, address and telephone number of the landlord’s agent
  • The street address and unit number for each dwelling unit the landlord owns leases or subleases or has the right to own, lease, or sublease

 

Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city-specific laws.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-107)

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN TENNESSEE

Do landlords in Tennessee have to provide notice of entry? 

Tennessee does not require landlords to provide any notice.  The right of entry for maintenance and repairs have to be defined in the lease.  However, it is recommended that landlords provide 24 hours’ notice for normal circumstances entry.    This includes:

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants, contractors, mortgagees, or buyers.

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

Landlords may enter due to an emergency or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(b))

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Yes, with proper notice and performed at reasonable hours. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(a))

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Yes, if the lease is within its final (30) days, the landlord only needs to provide a 24 hour notice.   (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(e)(5))

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Yes, when there is an immediate threat to the safety or health of persons using or near the premises. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(b))

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

Yes, the lease should include a provision requiring notice for absences 7 days or longer.

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticides?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

 

TENNESSEE SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Landlords should include a clause in the lease agreement to prevent subleasing.  Otherwise, the tenant may sublet the rental unit.

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN TENNESSEE

 

Tennessee Landlord Tenant Laws state a tenant is considered abandoned if they have been absent for 30 days and not yet paid rent.  Landlords must provide written notice both posted at the rental unit and sent via certified mail.  The statement must include (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405):

  • Landlord statement expressing their belief that the tenant has abandoned the premises
  • Providing a 10 day notice to take possession of their personal property (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405(b)(2))
  • Statement that if the tenant does not contact and/or take possession within 10 days, the landlord may remove personal property from the rental unit and re-rent the unit
  • Landlord will hold onto the property for another 30 days after the initial 10 days and may then dispose of the personal property
  • Provided a telephone number and mail addressing to contact the landlord

 

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR TENNESSEE LEASES

 

Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Owner or Agent Identity:  The lease agreement must disclose an owner of the premises and the managing agent.

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Tennessee Code Ann. § 66-28 – Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Tennessee Landlord and Tenant Act – Consumer Information (pdf)

Tennessee Department of Consumer and Insurance, Consumer Affairs Division

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Tennessee 

Tennessee Real Estate Commission

 

TENNESSEE RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

 

Tennessee Small Claims Court Limits:

$25,000 is the limit for small claims court.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 16-15-501(d))

 

Tennessee Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

Yes.

Court Clerk by County – Search for Courts

Tennessee Courts

Tennessee Attorney General and Reporter

Tennessee Bar Association

 

 

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