The Full Guide on Landlord Tenant Laws - Tennessee 
In Tennessee, like in other states, landlords and tenants encounter a complex web of local and state rental laws. These statutes, often called landlord-tenant laws, influence the rights and responsibilities of landlords and renters, shaping the dynamics of their relationship. Learning and following these laws can be a significant challenge, even for experienced rental property owners and tenants.
To help overcome this challenge, we've compiled this complete guide, addressing critical rental topics such as lease agreements, rent payments, tenant screening, and more. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, this guide will equip you with a thorough understanding of Tennessee's rental laws, as outlined in the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act Title 66, Chapter 28 (view here).
Landlords will discover how to protect their rental properties and foster positive tenant relationships, while tenants will gain the necessary knowledge to assert their fundamental rights.
Tennessee landlord tenant law fast facts
Tennessee landlord responsibilities and rights
Tennessee law grants landlords rights that allow them to manage their rental properties protected from legal and financial issues. Their main rights include:
- Charging and collecting on-time rent
- Collecting security deposits to cover unexpected costs at the end of the lease
- Pursuing the formal eviction process if the tenant commits a lease violation
Tennessee rental owners also have a set of responsibilities to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth tenancy. Their key duties are:
- Providing tenants with a habitable rental property free of discrimination
- Making repairs within a “reasonable time” and/or 14 days (depending on local laws) after receiving written notice from tenants
- Holding tenant’s security deposit in a financial account
Tennessee tenant responsibilities and rights
Tennessee renters also have fundamental rights that work to protect their safety and well-being while residing in a rental property. Their top rights include:
- The right to habitability: living in a habitable rental property that meets local and state health and safety codes
- Having repairs made in a timely manner or 14 days after providing the landlord with written notice, depending on the location of the rental
- Taking legal action if the landlord violates the rental agreement
Renters in Tennessee have a range of duties to uphold. Generally, these obligations ensure the rental is maintained and the landlord goes financially unharmed. Tenants must:
- Pay rent on time
- Comply with all health and safety building and housing codes
- Keep the unit in safe and habitable condition, free from damages
- Maintain the rental’s cleanliness as specified by the landlord
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
- Not purposefully destroy or damage any part of the property
- Not partake in any illegal activity on the property
Tennessee landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle
Tennessee tenant screening and rental application laws
Tennessee’s tenant screening and rental application laws are relatively simple and straightforward. For instance, there is no limit on how much a landlord can charge for a rental application fee, but it must be reasonable and used for tenant screening costs. Application fees do not have to be refundable.
Before Tennessee landlords can run background checks, they must obtain the tenant’s written consent. Landlords are allowed to run the following background checks:
- Criminal history and sex offender registry
- Rental, housing, and eviction history
- Proof of income and credit history
- Employment history
Tennessee lease agreement and lease termination laws
In Tennessee, lease agreements may be written or oral. However, leases of three years or more must be in writing.
Tennessee lease agreements should include the following information:
- Landlord’s contact information and address
- Rent amount and due date
- Length of lease
- Description of the rental unit
Learn what else you should include in a rental agreement today!
To terminate a lease, a landlord must provide a 10-day notice for week-to-week leases and a 30-day notice for month-to-month leases. There are no notice requirements for other lease types.
Tennessee renters may also terminate lease agreements early for the following legal reasons:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
- Lease violation
Tennessee security deposit laws
Tennessee law allows landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of the lease period to cover unforeseen costs at the end of the lease. Similar to a few other states, Tennessee does not limit how much a landlord can charge for the security deposit. Landlords are required to hold the security deposit in a financial institution.
Unlike most other states, Tennessee does not have any statutes requiring the landlord to return the tenant’s security deposit within a specific time frame. However, landlords that make deductions must alert the tenant in writing and then hold the deposit for 60 days while they wait to hear from the tenant. Landlords can make deductions for reasons including damage beyond normal wear and tear, costs due to breaching the lease, and unpaid rent, late fees, and utilities.
Tennessee rent laws
Tennessee does not have rent control laws and prohibits its cities and states from creating their own laws. This allows landlords to charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they would like, as long as they do not do so during the lease period unless the lease allows for it. Like a few other states, Tennessee does not specify how much notice a landlord must provide before raising rent. Landlords and tenants can agree upon a minimum notice period for a rent increase in the lease.
If the tenant fails to pay rent on time, landlords are required to provide a 5-day grace period before charging a late fee. Additionally, the late fee can only be a maximum of 10% of the rent owed.
Tennessee repair and maintenance laws
In general, Tennessee landlords must make repairs in a timely manner. If the rental unit is located in an area covered by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, repairs must be made within 14 days of receiving written notice from tenants.
If landlords fail to make repairs within a reasonable time frame, tenants can take a few legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make the repair, and cancel the rental agreement altogether.
Tennessee notice of entry laws
Tennessee landlords can enter the rental unit for reasons including maintenance, inspections, and property showings–as long as they are disclosed in the lease agreement. Generally, no notice is required to enter the property, but in the final 30 days of a lease, landlords are required to provide a 24 hours’ notice for showings. Unless it’s an emergency, landlords must obtain permission to enter an occupied rental.
Tennessee eviction laws
Rental owners are allowed to evict tenants for several legal reasons in Tennessee. Before the eviction can start, landlords must provide a specific notice period, dependent on the reason for eviction. The legal reasons for eviction and associated notice periods are as follows:
- Unpaid rent: If the tenant doesn’t pay rent after the 5-day grace period, the landlord may issue a 14-day notice to pay. If the tenant still does not pay in the 14-day period, the landlord can move forward with the eviction process.
- Lease violation: If the lease violation is not remediable, the landlord may issue a 14-day notice to quit. If the lease violation can be corrected by covering damage or repair costs, the tenant must pay within 14 days. However, if the tenant commits the same lease violation in a 6-month period, the landlord may issue a 7-day notice to quit.
- Healthy or safety violation: Landlords can issue a 3-day notice to quit to tenants who violate health, safety, or building and housing codes.
- Illegal acts: Illegal acts: If the landlord has proof that a tenant engaged in illegal behavior, they may issue a 3-day notice to quit. In cases of domestic abuse, no notice period is required and the landlord can evict the tenant immediately.
- No lease/end of lease: If the tenant holds over or stays past the end of the tenancy, the landlord may issue a notice to quit. The notice period depends on the length of the tenancy. Week-to-week leases require a 10-day notice to quit and month-to-month leases require a 30-day notice to quit.
Tennessee landlord tenant laws continued
in addition to addressing rental issues like repairs and security deposits, Tennessee state law also encompasses topics such as landlord retaliation, discrimination, and more. Take a closer look at some of these regulations below.
Tennessee tenants are only protected from housing discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act. It prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.
If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, such as by refusing to rent to a tenant or falsely claiming a rental unit is unavailable, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
In areas under the Tennessee Landlord Tenant Act, it’s illegal for landlords to retaliate against tenants for taking legal actions like reporting rental owners for health and safety violations. Raised rent, reduced services, and threatened eviction are all considered forms of retaliation.
Landlords in Tennessee must provide tenants with certain disclosures at the beginning of the lease period. Those disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint: Landlords who own rental units built before 1978 must provide information about the concentration of lead-based paints.
- Authorized agents: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
- Security deposit holdings: Landlords must disclose where the security deposit is being held.
- Showings: If the landlord wants to enter the property for showings, they must disclose this in the lease.
Navigate Tennessee’s landlord tenant laws with confidence
Understanding and adhering to Tennessee’s landlord-tenant laws is vital to a great rental experience for both parties. Landlords can protect their real estate investments with confidence, and tenants can assert their fundamental rights when needed. Furthermore, a solid comprehension of a landlord’s and tenant’s rights and responsibilities can lead to a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.
Landlords, if you need help with collecting rent or creating a lease agreement, and tenants, if you are looking to boost your credit, Azibo has got you covered. Learn about all of the benefits of using our free rental software today!
Tennessee landlord tenant law FAQ
Is Tennessee considered a landlord-friendly state?
Tennessee is considered a fairly landlord-friendly state–evident in its 20th place on the list of landlord-friendly states. The southern state doesn’t have rent control laws or many security deposit regulations. It also has a generally swift and easy eviction process. However, the state does have a mandated grace period for late rent payments and late fee limits, which favors the tenant. Additionally, Tennessee is known to have a high sales tax rate, making it a less favorable state for real estate investment. Find out what makes a state landlord-friendly now!
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Tennessee Small Claims Court?
Tennessee’s Small Claims Court, a division of the General Sessions Court, handles disputes involving small amounts of money, allowing cases to be handled in an expedited and simplified manner. In Tennessee, the Small Claims Court will hear rental cases up to $25,000. The process takes approximately one to three months depending on the circumstances.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.