In Tennessee, a fairly landlord friendly state, a tenancy is established after the payment of rent in exchange for inhabiting a property. Once that is done, both parties obtain certain rights and obligations under Tennessee law (Tennessee Code Ann. Title 66, Ch. 28).

It is important to familiarize yourself with the law to run a successful rental investment. So, we at Brentwood Square Management have put together this overview of the uniform residential landlord and tenant act to help all landlords be successful:

The Required Disclosures in Tennessee

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As a landlord, you have a legal obligation under Tennessee law to let your prospective renters know of certain information. In particular, the following disclosures:

  • Disclosure about lead paint concentration. Landlords who own homes built before 1978 must disclose this information on their residential leases.
  • Disclosure about the owners and managers of the property. You must provide your tenant with your name and address plus the same information for any property managers.
  • Disclosure on where you are holding the security deposit. If you require a security deposit, then your tenant has a right to know where you are holding the security deposit.
  • Disclosure on property showings. If you wish to enter the property to show it to prospects, then you must disclose this information on the lease agreement.

If a landlord fails to disclose any of these, then they may face legal action.

The Rights of Tennessee Landlords

As a landlord, you have the following rights under state law:

  • To enter rented premises with the relevant tenant notice.
  • To update the terms of the agreement.
  • The ability to evict a tenant for non-compliance to the terms of the agreement.
  • Reject a prospective tenant if they fail the tenant screening process.
  • To enforce the terms of the lease agreement.
  • To choose not to renew the lease or rental agreement.
  • Put certain restrictions on how a tenant can use the rented premises.
  • To have their tenants pay rent as per the agreement.
  • To remove a tenant's belongings from the rental units after an eviction proceeding via the county clerk after paying court fees.

The Responsibilities of Tennessee Landlords

Landlord responsibilities under state law include:

  • Treating all Tennessee tenants with respect and fairness.
  • Providing a fit and habitable condition for the property.
  • Responding to any maintenance issues and completing any necessary or agreed repairs as the tenant requests.
  • Ensuring the tenant enjoys their property in peace and quiet.
  • Following the proper eviction guidelines when removing a tenant's property.
  • Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement.
  • Serving the appropriate notice when looking to update the terms of the agreement.
  • To provide any necessary or agreed services as stipulated in the agreement.
  • To place a tenants security deposit in a bank or lending institution within the State and only use it to cover tenant expenses like utility services.

The Rights of Tenants in Tennessee

Similarly, your renters have rights under the Tennessee laws:

  • To live in a rental unit that complies with all health, safety and building codes.
  • Continuing to live in rented premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process.
  • To live in privacy, peace and quiet, with their legal rights upheld.
  • To complete repairs on the rental unit within a reasonable period.
  • Receiving notice of any changes to the lease terms.
  • To repair and deduct rent as per the law.

The Responsibilities of Tenants in Tennessee

The following are the responsibilities Tennessee tenants have under the Tennessee laws:

  • Serving the landlord with proper notice prior to vacating the rented premises.
  • Abiding by all terms of the lease or rental agreement.
  • To keep noise to reasonable levels.
  • To provide the landlord notice, in writing, of any required repairs.
  • Notify the landlord when planning to be away from the property for an extended time.
  • To keep paying rent on time and to continue to pay rent through the duration of the rental agreement and ensuring any paid rent goes to the right place.
  • To keep a habitable dwelling.
  • Not breaking the lease.

If a tenant fails in any of these responsibilities, violates Tennessee code, landlord tenant laws, or the tenant violates the agreement, ditctated by the laws in tennessee, they may face eviction.

An Overview of the Landlord Tenant Law in Tennessee

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Changing the Locks

A landlord deliberately changing locks on their property, even if the tenants withhold rent, is illegal. However, your tenant may have the legal right to change locks without seeking your permission. This is based on the lack of any specific provisions.

Small Claims Actions

Small claims courts provide a simple and inexpensive way for parties to manage disputes or evictions. So, as a landlord, you need want the help of a small claims court regarding things like unpaid rent, evicting tenants, and security deposit deductions.

As per the Tennessee landlord-tenant law, if a landlord decides to file, the maximum lawsuit is $25,000. Currently, rent-related cases have a 6-year statute of limitation, whereas other types of housing disputes have a 3-year statute of limitation.

Landlord Entry

Tennessee landlord-tenant law does not dictate when a landlord can access the property - when a landlord wishes to enter, they can. But legally, you must give your tenant a 24-hour notice in the final 30 days of the lease if you wish to show the unit to prospects.

It is also customary for landlord access to be agreed in the policies on the lease. The only time a landlord is not required to provide notice is in case of emergency.

Housing Discrimination and the Fair Housing Act

Tennessee landlord-tenant law and federal regulations prohibit any pattern of discrimination that may affect a prospective or actual purchasers ability to rent a home. Additionally, The Fair Housing Act protects prospective tenants from being discriminated upon based on a series of protected characteristics .

Should a landlord violate the Fair Housing Actt, they would leave themselves up to serious legal consequences, contact us today if you have any questions!

Rent Increase Laws

As a landlord, there are no limits as to how much you can increase your rent price by or rent control laws that may influence the fair rental value of the property. Consequently, you can raise your rent by however much you want, whenever you want, without serving an advance notice.

But Tennessee laws state that there are limits to the value late fees you can charge. These late fees must not exceed 10% of the missing amount in late fees. In addition, you must not charge a fee exceeding $30 for bounced checks.

Lease Termination

As per the Tennessee laws, a tennessee tenant can break their lease under certain conditions such as:

  • Starting active military duty.
  • The landlord failed to keep the property habitable, as described by the building and housing codes as well as the county public health department.
  • Harassment by the landlord.
  • In case of lease violation by the landlord.

Tennessee landlord-tenant act require a landlord make reasonable efforts to re-rent a unit after the tenant has left. This is regardless of whether the reason for leaving is legally justified or not. You may also need to manage any security deposits for the former tenant at this point as well.

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Bottom Line

Understanding the landlord tenant laws is an incredibly important part of being a successful landlord. Both the landlord must understand both their responsibilities and their rights, but if you have any questions, like how to manage rent payments, a tenant's security deposit or understanding the laws in Tennessee its always good to contact a real estate management company.

We at Brentwood Square Management have years of experience working with the Tennessee landlord-tenant laws and provide essential services on a landlord's behalf, so if you have any questions, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change and this information might not be up to date at the time you read it. If you have a specific question, kindly contact us!