When you are renting your property out to a tenant, there is always the possibility that you will have to evict your tenant.

Generally speaking, you can expect the eviction process to take anywhere between four to eight weeks depending on the violation committed. But the process can take longer should your tenant file an appeal or any other landlord-tenant law infringements take place.

With this in mind, we at Brentwood Square Management Service have put together the following is a guide to the Tennessee eviction process:

Legal Reason

You must have a legally justifiable reason to evict your tenant. These reasons include:

  • If the tenant fails to pay rent
  • If the tenant violates the terms of the agreement
  • The absence of a lease
  • Lease violations involving the tenant’s safety and health
  • Illegal activity

Other than for these reasons, it’d be illegal for you to evict your tenant. Additionally, retaliatory evictions, are illegal.

Eviction Notice

eviction notice

Once you have a legal reason to evict your tenant, you must serve them with the relevant eviction notice. The notice must be specific to the violation they have committed. The notice must also tell the tenant what they must do within the notice period or else they would get evicted.

Nonpayment of Rent

For tenants who stop paying rent, you must serve them a 14-Day Notice to Pay if you wish to evict them. Rent becomes late after its 5 days past-due according to Tennessee law.

The notice gives the tenants the option to pay the late rent within 14 days to avoid getting evicted. If the tenant chooses to ignore the notice and still remains on the unit, you can move to court.

Lease Violation

The Tennessee landlord-tenant laws also allow landlords to evict their tenants due to violations committed on the lease.

Some states categorize violations as either curable or incurable. However, this is not the case in Tennessee, as the state considers all lease violations as incurable.

The only exception to this is if the violation involves property damage. If the tenant pays for the costs of repairs within the 14-day window, you must stop further eviction proceedings against them.

For repeat offenders in a six-month period, you can terminate their lease with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.

Otherwise, you must serve the tenant with a 14-Day Notice to Quit. This will give the tenant a maximum of 14 days to move out. If they don’t, you can proceed with the eviction action against them.

The following are examples of lease violations that you can use the 14-Day Notice to Quit for.

  • Rental damage
  • Exceeding any rental limits (tenant volumes etc.)
  • Violating the pet policy
  • Violations of the Fair Housing Act

Illegal activity is a serious lease violation that belongs in a separate category.

Absence of a Lease

This usually occurs when a tenant continues living in the premises after their lease has expired. Such tenants are said to “holdover”. Before you can evict them, the state’s eviction laws require that you serve them proper notice first.

For tenants who pay rent on a weekly basis, you must serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit. For those who pay rent on a monthly basis, you must provide them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.

If the notice period ends without the tenant moving out, you can move to court for further help.

lease absence

Material Health & Safety Violation

You can also evict your Tennessee tenant for violating a habitability code. Examples of such violations include:

  • Tampering with the unit’s electrical wiring.
  • Letting trash pile up inside the unit.
  • Falsely claiming they are disabled.
  • Violations of the Fair Housing Act

In all these cases, you must serve the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This will give the tenant up to 3 days to vacate the premises or they risk getting evicted.

Again, if the tenant refuses to leave within the 3 days, you can proceed with the eviction process.

Illegal Activity

Tennessee considers illegal activities to include any of the following:

  • Manufacture, possession or sale of controlled substances.
  • Prostitution.
  • The willful or intentional committing of a violent crime.
  • Threatening or endangering the health, welfare, or safety of others or property.
  • Creation of an unsanitary or hazardous condition that affects the health, welfare or safety of the property or tenants.

To start an eviction action against tenants involved in such, you must first serve them the 3-Day Notice to Quit. In the notice, make sure you provide your tenant with details of the violation.

Summons & Complaint

The next step in the eviction action is to move to an appropriate court and file a complaint. You’ll need to pay a filing fee, which normally costs around $200 depending on the county.

Unlike an eviction notice, service of the summons and complaint must be done by a sheriff. They must do so in any of the following ways.

  • Serve the notice in person.
  • Post the notice in a conspicuous place on the property.
  • Mail a copy to the tenant via certified mail.


Court Hearing & Judgment

Once the sheriff has served the summons and complaint to the tenant, the hearing must be held no later than 6 days after. Either party can request for an extension of this period to up to 15 days.

If the tenant doesn’t show up for the hearing, the court will issue a default judgment in your favor. You’ll then be issued with a writ of possession and the eviction action will proceed.

Writ of Possession

This is a judgment by the court that allows a sheriff to remove the tenant and the owner to change the locks. The writ gives the tenant the final notice to move out before they can be forcibly removed.

Typically, a writ is issued by a court 10 days after successful judgment. Be advised, at this point you may have to return or deduct the security deposit, should it be viable.

Bottom Line

Understanding the Tennessee eviction process is incredibly important for landlords. As, even though you may never wish to evict a tenant, the possibility is always there.

If you have any further questions regarding this or any other aspect of property management please don’t hesitate to contact us at Brentwood Square Management Services.

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change, and this information may not be updated at the time you read it. For expert legal advice, kindly get in touch with us.