This article summarizes some key Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws applicable to residential rental units.
The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.
With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.
If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the Tennessee State Bar. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.
Official Rules and Regulations
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28 – 2013 Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- Landlord and Tenant FAQs – A Consumer Summary (pdf)
- Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301)
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(g)(1))
- Nonrefundable Deposits: No Statute
- Security Deposit Interest: No Statute
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Required (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(a))
- Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No Statute
- Advance Notice of Withholding: Required (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(2)(A))
- Move-Out Checklist/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(2))
- Joint Move-Out Inspection: Required if requested by the tenant (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(1)(B))
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
- Receipt of Deposit: No Statute
- Failure to Comply: No Statute
Lease, Rent and Fees:
- Rent Is Due: Unless otherwise agreed, rent is due at the beginning of each month, and can be prorated day-to-day. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(c))
- Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
- Rent Grace Period: 5 days, excluding Sundays and legal holidays. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))
- Late Fees: Not to exceed 10% of the amount of rent past due. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))
- Prepaid Rent: No Statute
- Returned Check Fees: $30 (Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-29-102)
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide a Habitable Dwelling: Yes, however the tenant must file a complaint to the local officials, and upon failure by the landlord to remedy the issue, the tenant is allowed to pay rent to the county for safe keeping. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 68-111-104)
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-502)
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-502)
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(c))
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-507)
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No Statute. Typically no notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 30 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(b))
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 10 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(a))
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy for Noncompliance by Landlord: 14 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-501)
- Termination for Nonpayment: 14 days to remedy (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-109 and § 66-28-505)
- Termination for Lease Violation: 30 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-109 and § 66-28-505)
- Termination for Drug-related Criminal Acts or Violent Behavior: 3 days (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-109(d))
- Termination for Substance or Prostitution Violations: Immediate (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-107(a))
- Required Notice before Entry: No statute, but 24 hours is recommended.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(a))
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes. Within the final thirty (30) days of the termination of the rental agreement, the landlord only needs to provide 24 hours notice if to show the property, but only if specified in the lease. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(e)(5))
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(b))
- Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-507)
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
- Lockouts Allowed: No
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: 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 three (3) days of occupancy of the rented premises, the landlord may have such utility services terminated if the existing utility service is in the name of the landlord. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-521)
- Notice of Vehicle Towing: A landlord may have a vehicle towed with 10 days notice, under the following circumstances: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-519)
- Flat Tire(s): One (1) or more flat or missing tires;
- Dead: Unable to operate under its own power;
- Broken Glass: Missing or broken windshield or more than one (1) broken or missing window;
- Missing Fenders: One (1) or more missing fenders or bumpers; or
- Noncompliance: Has not been in compliance with all applicable local or state laws relative to titling, licensing, operation, and registration for more than thirty (30) days.
- Notice of Extended Absence: If specified in the rental agreement, the tenant must give notice to the landlord of any absence of 7 days or longer. If the tenant fails to do so, the tenant can be held responsible for any damages resulting from his/her absence. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-407)
- Abandonment of Premises: Landlord can assume abandonment by the tenant if either: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405)
- The tenant’s unexplained or extended absence from the premises for thirty (30) days or more without payment of rent as due shall be enough evidence of abandonment, or
- The tenant’s nonpayment of rent for fifteen (15) days past the rental due date, together with other reasonable factual circumstances indicating the tenant has permanently vacated the premises.
- Abandonment of Personal Property: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405)
- 10 Days: The landlord must notify and give the tenant 10 days to claim the personal property.
- Relocation of Belongings: If tenant fails to contact the landlord, the personal property can be removed from the premise, but stored for not less than 30 days.
- Sale or Dispose of: After 30 days, the landlord may sell or otherwise dispose of the tenant’s possessions and personal effects and apply the proceeds of the sale to the unpaid rents, damages, storage fees, sale costs and attorney’s fees.
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Landlord Duties & Maintenance: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-304)
- Compliance: Comply with building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Repairs: Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
- Common Areas: Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition; and
- Trash: In multi-unit complexes of four (4) or more units, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste from common points.
- Other: Other duties found at (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-304)
- Tenant’s Duties: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-401)
- Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Cleanliness: Keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises when the tenant took possession;
- Trash: Dispose from the tenant’s dwelling unit all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste to the designated collection areas and into receptacles;
- Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or permit any person to do so; and shall not engage in any illegal conduct on the premises; and
- Quiet Enjoyment: Act and require other persons on the premises, with the tenant’s or other occupants’ consent, to act in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
- Name and Addresses: Before a lease begins, the owner must disclose the name and address of the landlord, property owner, and anyone authorized to manage the property or allowed to receive notice on the owner’s behalf. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-302)
- Written Leases: Required for rental agreements more than 3 years in duration. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-104)
- Fair Housing:
- Notification by Email: If the tenant provides an email address in the rental agreement, any notification required to be sent to the tenant may be sent by email unless otherwise specified by other statutes. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-108)
- House Rules and Regulations: A landlord has the right to create rules and regulations at any time, under certain circumstances. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-402)
- Domestic Violence Situations: No Statute
- Retaliation: A 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. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-51 and § 66-11-105)
- Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
Court and Legal Related:
- Tennessee Small Claims Court
- Limits: $25,000 (no limit on eviction suits) (Tenn. Code Ann. § 16-15-501(d))
- Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims: Yes
- Court Clerk by County (search)
- Guidelines and Helpful Information for People with a Case in General Sessions Court (pdf)
- Statute of Limitations
- Justice for All – A Tennessee Supreme Court Initiative
- Tennessee Judicial District Map
- Tennessee Courts
- Tennessee Attorney General
- Tennessee Bar Association
- Legal Aid:
- Find an Attorney
- Business License: Each landlord of one (1) or more dwelling units, in a county having a metropolitan form of government and a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000), is required to disclose the following information to the local government responsible for enforcing building codes in the jurisdiction where the dwelling units are located: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-107)
- The landlord’s name, address and telephone number, or the name, address and telephone number of the landlord’s agent; and
- The street address and unit number, as appropriate, for each dwelling unit that the landlord owns, leases, or subleases or has the right to own, lease, or sublease.
- Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance
- Tennessee Insurance Division
- Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Tennessee – Rental Help
- Tennessee Real Estate Commission
- Tennessee Health Department – Renters and Healthy Homes
- REALTORS® Associations