Tennessee Landlord Tenant Laws [2022]: Renter's Rights & FAQs (2023)

Last Updated: January 11, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

In Tennessee, whenever there is a valid rental agreement or a landlord has received payment for rent, Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. Title 66, Ch. 28) establishes a landlord tenant relationship. Both parties have special rights and duties to abide by. Tenants have the right to a habitable living space and the right to pursue at least one form of alternative action, among others.

Landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to recover payment for damages exceeding normal wear and tear.

Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.

Questions? To chat with a Tennessee landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Landlord Responsibilities in Tennessee

Tennessee does not have a traditional warranty of habitability requirements described in its laws. Rather, the state’s Bureau of Health Administration sets down minimum standards of habitability for landlords.

Landlords must abide by these standards and make requested repairs in a timely manner (within 14 days). If they do not, tenants have the right to make repairs and deduct the cost from future rent payments.

Landlords in Tennessee are responsible for the following items:

(Video) 5 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Rights As A Tenant | #KCPublicWorks

ItemLandlord Responsibility?
Dwelling structuresYes
Hot/cold waterYes
Kitchen fixtures (e.g., stove, fridge, etc.)Yes
PlumbingYes
VentilationYes
Electrical wiringYes
HeatingYes
VerminYes
Garbage removalYes, multi-family units
MoldNot addressed
Bed BugsVaries depending on responsibility

Landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants in retaliation for exercising their right to habitable housing.

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Tenant Responsibilities in Tennessee

Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, Tennessee tenants must:

  • Maintain a living space free from damages and hazards.
  • Comply with all housing and safety codes.
  • Maintain a level of cleanliness as specified by the landlord.
  • Not engage in any illegal activity.
  • Not deliberately destroy or damage any part of the premises.
  • Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.

Evictions in Tennessee

Tennessee landlords can begin the eviction process for any of the following reasons:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent, then there is a 5-day grace period mandated by the state. If rent is still unpaid after 5 days, landlords may issue a 14-Day Notice to Pay. If rent still has not been paid after 14 days, the landlords can begin formal eviction proceedings. If the rental property is located in a county with over 75,000 people, the notice may be waived (but only if it is expressly waived in the lease agreement).
  2. Violation of Lease Terms – Landlords are not required to allow tenants to cure a lease violation unless the breach can be corrected by paying an amount to cover damages or repairs. Payment must be received within 14 days. If the same violation occurs within a six-month period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement with a 7-Day Notice to Quit. If the violation is not remediable, then the landlord may issue a 14-Day Notice to Quit.
  3. No Lease/ End of Lease – If a tenant stays in the rental unit longer than the rental term, the landlord may serve the tenant with a notice to quit. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
    • Week-to-Week – 10-Day Notice to Quit.
    • Month-to-Month –30-Day Notice to Quit.
  4. Material Health/Safety Violation – If a tenant violates a health, building, safety or housing code the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
  5. Illegal Acts – If landlords find that a tenant is engaging in illegal behavior, then they may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. They do not have to issue a notice to cure. In certain cases, such as domestic abuse, Tennessee landlords can immediately evict without advanced notice.

Landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants as a form of retaliation or discrimination.

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Security Deposits in Tennessee

  • Standard limit/Maximum amount – None.
  • Time Limit for Return – 60 Days.
  • Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If landlords wrongfully withhold a security deposit, then they may be liable to pay damages. However, Tennessee law does not specify provisions or specific amounts.
  • Allowable Deductions – Missing rental payments, damages that exceed normal wear and tear, reasons outlined in the lease agreement.

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Lease Termination in Tennessee

Tennessee tenants must give the following notice if they wish to terminate a lease:

Questions? To chat with a Tennessee landlord tenant attorney, Click here

Early Termination. Tennessee tenants may legally break a lease for the following reasons:

  1. Early termination clause in lease
  2. Active military duty
  3. Uninhabitable unit
  4. Landlord harassment
  5. Lease violation

Tennessee landlords are required to re-rent a unit and not charge a tenant for the remaining value of their lease.

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Rent Increases & Related Fees in Tennessee

  • Rent control. State law prohibits local jurisdiction from passing ordinances that control the amount of rent charged for commercial or residential properties. Thus, Tennessee landlords can charge whatever they want for rent.
  • Rental increases. Similarly, there are no limits on rental increases. Tennessee landlords can raise the rent by however much they want and whenever they want, without giving advance notice.
  • Rent-related fees. Landlords are limited to charging no more than 10% of the missing amount in late fees. There is also a $30 returned check limit.

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Housing Discrimination in Tennessee

Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. This law does not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. Tennessee law does not have any extra protections for classes not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.

Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The Tennessee Human Rights Commission handles all cases of housing discrimination in the state. The following behavior may be considered discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected group:

  • Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer.
  • Failing to make reasonable accommodations.
  • Advertising that encourages or discourages certain groups from applying.
  • Lying about unit availability.
  • Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges.

Victims of housing discrimination can file a complaint digitally through the commission website and through paper filing. The investigation may establish a reasonable cause that can be used to sue the landlord for damages.

Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Tennessee

Landlord Right to Entry in Tennessee

There is no general requirement that landlords give notice before entering inhabited properties. There is one exception: landlords must give a 24-hour notice in the final 30 days of the lease if they wish to show the unit. It is customary for landlords and tenants to agree on entry notice policies in the lease. Landlords are not required to provide notice to enter in case of emergencies.

Small Claims Court in Tennessee

Tennessee’s small claims court will handle rental and lease disputes totaling less than $25,000.Rent-related cases currently have a 6-year statute of limitations and other types of housing disputes have a 3-year statute of limitations.

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Mandatory Disclosures in Tennessee

Tennessee landlords are only required to make these mandatory disclosures:

  1. Lead-Based Paint– Landlords who own homes built before 1978 must provide information about lead paint concentrations.
  2. Authorized Parties– Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of those involved in owning or managing the property.
  3. Security Deposit Holdings – If a security deposit is held, the landlord must disclose the location of the account.
  4. Showings – If the landlord wishes to reserve the right to enter to show the property before the end of the lease term, the landlord must be disclosed in the lease agreement.

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Changing the Locks in Tennessee

Tennessee landlords are prohibited from unilaterally changing the locks on tenants. Based on the lack of any specific provisions, Tennessee tenants may have the legal right to change locks without landlord permission, but this is not recommended.

Local Laws in Tennessee

Nashville Landlord Tenant Rights

In Nashville, the Property Standards Division is responsible for enforcing zoning and building standard codes. Nashville has certain restrictions on “visual clutter” and inoperable automobiles on the premises. More info about these rules can be found on the city’s website.

Please check your municipality for any local landlord or tenant rules and regulations.

Questions? To chat with a Tennessee landlord tenant attorney, Click here

FAQs

What a landlord Cannot do in Tennessee? ›

Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their legal rights. In Tennessee, the landlord must not terminate, refuse to renew a lease, or fine a tenant for complaining to the landlord regarding the deposit, complaining to a government agency, or exercising a legal right.

What are my Renters rights in Tennessee? ›

You cannot be evicted without notice. The landlord cannot change the locks or shut off your utilities to make you leave. Most of the time, a landlord needs to go to court before evicting you. If you did something dangerous or threatening, the landlord only needs to give you three (3) days to move out.

What a landlord Cannot do? ›

Landlords cannot enter tenanted properties without giving proper notice. Landlords cannot arbitrarily end someone's tenancy before the lease expires. Arbitrary, mid-lease rent increases are not permitted unless specified in certain circumstances in the lease or by the municipality.

What is the maximum rent increase allowed in Tennessee? ›

As a landlord-friendly state, Tennessee does not have a cap on how much your landlord can charge you. Even if it's an increase from $1,500 to $3,000, there is no explicit law that prevents them from doing so.

How much time does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out? ›

It normally ranges from 20 to 30 days. At times the lease agreement may provide for longer periods of more than 30 days. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which regulates residential lease agreements states that such a notice period can not be less than 20 working days.

How much notice does a landlord have to give in Tennessee? ›

Notice Requirements for Tennessee Landlords

A landlord can simply give you a written notice to move, allowing you 30 days as required by Tennessee law and specifying the date on which your tenancy will end.

What does a landlord legally have to provide? ›

What landlords must provide. There are a number of rules setting out what landlords must provide, including: Locks and security, ie the property must be reasonably secure. Insulation, heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress and drainage to meet the requirements of the healthy homes standards.

What is a landlord responsible for in Tennessee? ›

Tennessee landlords are obligated to follow all building and housing codes that materially affect the health and safety of the tenant. Landlords must make all necessary repairs and maintain the premises in a habitable condition.

Can you be evicted in TN right now? ›

Since the emergency protections ended, then for renters in Tennessee: Your landlord can still give you a notice to quit. Your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against you.

Can I sue my landlord for emotional distress? ›

Yes, you can sue your landlord for stress, if this emotional distress occurred as a direct result of a housing disrepair. This is because as a tenant, your landlord has a legal duty of care towards you. This duty of care applies to private landlords, housing associations and local councils.

Do long term tenants have rights? ›

You have tenancy rights even if you've been given notice or owe rent. You do not need a written agreement to have tenancy rights. They continue until you end your tenancy voluntarily or are evicted through the legal process. Do not be pressured into giving up your home and your tenancy rights.

What rights does a tenant have? ›

The rights of a tenant

The right to live in a property that's safe and in a good state of repair. The right to have your deposit returned at the end of the tenancy (provided that you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement).

What's the most a landlord can increase rent? ›

According to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, also known as AB 1482, landlords are allowed annual rent increases of 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living (Consumer Price Index) per year, up to 10%.

Can landlord just increase rent? ›

Your landlord can't increase your rent during your fixed term unless you agree or your agreement allows it. If your agreement says your rent can be increased it has to say when and how it will be done. This is known as having a 'rent review clause'.

Can landlords do random inspections? ›

While you have the right to inspect the condition of your property, this can only be enforced with a formal application for a court order. If your tenant refuses access, you or your agent cannot enter the property.

Can a tenant refuse to pay rent? ›

Tenants often resort to withholding their rental payment if they feel their landlord is not maintaining the property. This can backfire, so it is best to follow the rule of the law to resolve the issue. This is how it should be handled.

On what grounds can a landlord evict a tenant? ›

Reasons for ending a tenancy
  • The tenant has breached their responsibilities. ...
  • The property is not suited to the tenant's needs. ...
  • The landlord requires the property for personal or family use* ...
  • The landlord wants to sell the property. ...
  • Significant refurbishment of the property* ...
  • The use of the property is changing*

How much notice does a landlord have to give to sell? ›

If you have a periodic tenancy (which doesn't have a fixed end point) you're permitted to stay for any time covered by your last rent payment. In either case, your landlord must give you two months' notice of their wishes.

Can a landlord enter your home when you are not there? ›

You are paying rent to the landlord for exclusive use as the property as your home and as such you have the right to decide who enters it and when. If a landlord enters your home without permission they are, technically, trespassing, unless they have a court order to allow them otherwise.

Do I have to have a reason to give my tenant notice? ›

Your landlord can only ask you to leave during the fixed term if they have certain reasons ('grounds'). For example, if: you're behind with your rent payments ('in arrears') you've used the property for illegal purposes, like selling drugs.

Can a landlord enter without notice in Tennessee? ›

Landlord Right to Entry in Tennessee

There is no general requirement that landlords give notice before entering inhabited properties. There is one exception: landlords must give a 24-hour notice in the final 30 days of the lease if they wish to show the unit.

What can landlords be fined for? ›

Three key breaches where this would apply are: Failing to give your tenant certain required documents at the start of their tenancy (and keep proof), including: a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gas and electrical safety certificates.

Is a landlord allowed to have a key? ›

Your landlord may have keys to your property but does not have the right to enter at any time. The only time your landlord has right of access is to check for any necessary repairs and to do this they need to give you at least 24 hours' written notice.

What is a 14 day breach notice? ›

When a breach happens, you can send the person who is in breach a 14-day notice to remedy. The notice tells them what they've done to breach the agreement, what they need to do to fix it, and how long they have to fix it.

Can a landlord evict you for no reason in Tennessee? ›

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant before the tenant's lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause, or a valid legal reason.

What are my rights if I have no tenancy agreement? ›

A tenant without a written contract is still entitled to all the statutory rights a regular tenant with a contract is, including water, heating, a safe environment etc. In a similar vein, the tenant is still obligated to pay rent on time and take reasonable care of the property.

Can you withhold rent for repairs in Tennessee? ›

Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent in Tennessee

Tenants may withhold rent or exercise the right to "repair and deduct" if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs, such as a broken heater. For specifics, see Tennessee Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent or "Repair and Deduct".

Do I have 30 days to move after an eviction? ›

Your landlord must give you a written Eviction Notice, sometimes called a "Notice To Quit." If you do not have a lease, the Notice will tell you that you have either 7 days or 30 days to move out. If you have a lease then the lease will usually say what kind of notice the landlord has to give you.

How long is the eviction process in Tennessee? ›

Tennessee Eviction Process Timeline
Notice Received by TenantsAverage Timeline
Issuing an Official Notice3-30 days
Issuing and Serving of Summons and ComplaintAt least 6 days before the hearing
Court Hearing and Judgment for Possession6 days after Service of Summons and Complaint
Issuance of Writ of Possession10 days
1 more row
11 Aug 2022

What is a writ for eviction in Tennessee? ›

A writ of possession in Tennessee is an order issued by a Tennessee court that permits an owner to recover personal property. A writ of possession is most commonly used to evict and remove tenants from rented property.

What is classed as harassment from a landlord? ›

Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave. Harassment can include: stopping services, like electricity. withholding keys, for example there are 2 tenants in a property but the landlord will only give 1 key.

Can I sue my landlord for mental health? ›

Can I sue my landlord for pain and suffering? As part of a personal injury claim, you could be compensated for any pain or suffering you were caused to experience as a result of your landlord's failings. This includes physical and psychiatric harm, as well as financial losses.

Can I claim compensation from my landlord? ›

The court can also award compensation called damages. Damages put you back in the financial position you would have been in had your landlord made the repairs when they should have done. You can get damages if: you've been injured or made ill.

How long before a tenant becomes a sitting tenant? ›

This is usually between six and 12 months. If you don't renew the agreement and your tenant stays on, the tenancy arrangement becomes something called a 'periodic tenancy'. Essentially, this changes the contract from a fixed term to a rolling monthly agreement.

How much notice do you have to give a tenant 2022? ›

From May 5 2022 tenants will have to give: 4 weeks' notice if the tenant has lived in the property for less than 10 years. 12 weeks' notice if the tenant has lived in the property for more than 10 years.

What makes you a sitting tenant? ›

A sitting tenant is a person who is renting a house that the owner (their landlord) has decided to sell. If they have an ongoing agreement or ongoing contract with their landlord (the seller), the sitting tenant will be able to stay in the property after the sale is completed.

Can tenant refuse to leave? ›

Periodic assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs)

If tenants don't leave at the end of the notice period, landlords must apply to the court for a possession order, which gives them the right to evict tenants and take possession of the property.

What are the duties of tenant? ›

The first and foremost duty of the tenant is to pay rent in the time and at the manner stipulated in the agreement. Generally, the tenant is supposed to pay his rent in advance before taking possession of the premises. It is important to note that rent determines the nature and periodicity of the tenancy relationship.

What does quiet enjoyment of a property mean? ›

Tenants should not read 'quiet enjoyment' literally. It does not mean that the tenant has the right to enjoy a quiet property. Instead, it means that the tenant has the right to use their property without unreasonable or unnecessary interference from their landlord.

What causes rent to increase? ›

Rising rents are largely a byproduct of limited supply and high demand across the rental market.

What does it mean to be exempt from AB 1482? ›

Units are exempt if they are restricted to be affordable for low- or moderate-income residents. A single family home is exempt unless it's owned by a real estate investment trust (REIT), a corporation, or an LLC where one of the members is a corporation.

How do you explain rent increase to tenant? ›

How Do I Tell My Tenant I Need to Raise the Rent?
  1. Remember you're a business. ...
  2. Do your research. ...
  3. Raise the rent all at once or incrementally. ...
  4. Don't negotiate or ask tenants what they think a fair rent increase would be. ...
  5. Be courteous and firm. ...
  6. Find a template you like. ...
  7. Send a formal letter by certified mail.

Can I refuse a rent increase? ›

Applying to challenge your rent increase

If you and your landlord can't agree on your rent increase you can ask a tribunal to decide for you - it's free to apply. You'll need to apply before the date your rent increase is due to start - you can find this on your section 13 notice.

What is a section 13 notice? ›

A Section 13 notice is a formal notice, filled out by the landlord, informing tenants of a rent increase. Section 13 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to increase rent prices for periodic assured or assured shorthold tenancies.

Are landlords allowed to say no pets? ›

As all pet-owning tenants know, most leases and rental agreements contain no-pets clauses. Such provisions are legal everywhere, and, when a tenant violates a no-pets clause, landlords may terminate the tenancy.

Can I refuse a landlord inspection? ›

The landlord owns the property, but while the tenant rents, it is their home. This means the landlord must respect their peace and privacy (this is called peaceful and exclusive use of the property). A landlord has the right to carry out routine inspections of the property, and regular inspections should be undertaken.

What is a Section 8 notice requiring possession? ›

If you don't leave your home. If you don't leave by the date on your section 8 notice, your landlord will have to go to court to make you leave. This is called starting a possession claim. Your landlord can't go to court until after the date given on your section 8 notice.

How much notice do landlords have to give for an inspection? ›

Landlords and their agents or contractors should only carry out work or inspect your home at reasonable times. You're entitled to: at least 24 hours' written notice of an inspection. reasonable notice if someone needs access to your home to carry out repairs.

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.

Can a landlord come into your house without permission in Tennessee? ›

(b) The landlord may enter the premises without consent of the tenant in case of emergency. "Emergency" means a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.

What are landlords responsible for in Tennessee? ›

Tennessee landlords are obligated to follow all building and housing codes that materially affect the health and safety of the tenant. Landlords must make all necessary repairs and maintain the premises in a habitable condition.

Can landlords do random inspections? ›

While you have the right to inspect the condition of your property, this can only be enforced with a formal application for a court order. If your tenant refuses access, you or your agent cannot enter the property.

What does a landlord legally have to provide? ›

What landlords must provide. There are a number of rules setting out what landlords must provide, including: Locks and security, ie the property must be reasonably secure. Insulation, heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress and drainage to meet the requirements of the healthy homes standards.

Can you be evicted in TN right now? ›

Since the emergency protections ended, then for renters in Tennessee: Your landlord can still give you a notice to quit. Your landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against you.

Do landlords have to provide air conditioning in Tennessee? ›

You may think of air conditioning when you hear “utility,” but in Tennessee landlords are not required to provide air unless your lease says so.

Can a landlord walk into your house? ›

You are paying rent to the landlord for exclusive use as the property as your home and as such you have the right to decide who enters it and when. If a landlord enters your home without permission they are, technically, trespassing, unless they have a court order to allow them otherwise.

Can a landlord just turn up unannounced? ›

Unless there is an emergency, your landlord or their agent must give you at least 24 hours' notice if they intend to visit. It must be at normal times of the day and for legitimate reasons - that is, to check the condition of the property or to do repairs, or for inspections required by law, such as gas safety.

Does Tennessee have a mold law? ›

The Tennessee Department of Health does not have authority to inspect and require landlords to address mold issues in rental property. Laws to address mold directly are not common. However, in some cases, local building codes may help to address the problems that contribute to mold growth.

Can a landlord evict you for no reason in Tennessee? ›

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant before the tenant's lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause, or a valid legal reason.

Can a landlord evict you without a court order? ›

The law does not permit arbitrary evictions. This means that before you are evicted there must be a court order. A court must consider how the eviction will affect the people who will be evicted and evictions cannot be done without good reasons.

What are my rights if I have no tenancy agreement? ›

A tenant without a written contract is still entitled to all the statutory rights a regular tenant with a contract is, including water, heating, a safe environment etc. In a similar vein, the tenant is still obligated to pay rent on time and take reasonable care of the property.

Can a tenant refuse access? ›

Legally when you grant a tenancy, you give the tenant exclusive possession (the right to exclude the world), they may exercise this right and refuse you access in some circumstances.

Can I refuse a landlord inspection? ›

The landlord owns the property, but while the tenant rents, it is their home. This means the landlord must respect their peace and privacy (this is called peaceful and exclusive use of the property). A landlord has the right to carry out routine inspections of the property, and regular inspections should be undertaken.

Can tenant refuse viewings? ›

You do not have to allow viewings if they are not mentioned in your contract. You could say that they must only take place at certain times. If you refuse viewings and your agreement says you must allow access, you might find it difficult to get a reference or have problems with getting your deposit back.

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