Tennessee Landlord Tenant Rights

Renting a home can be stressful, whether you are the lessor or the lessee. Take the stress out of rentals with our below guide on Tennessee landlord tenant rights.

Landlord Responsibilities

The landlord has certain responsibilities to the tenant. These include:

  • Meeting the Tennessee Department of Health's minimum standards of habitability
  • Making requested repairs within 14 days
  • Providing hot and cold water
  • Providing plumbing, heating, ventilation and electrical wiring
  • Providing standard kitchen fixtures

The landlord is prohibited from evicting a tenant in retaliation for exercising any rights to habitable housing. This includes complaints directly to the landlord, a government agency or exercising any legal right.

Tenant Responsibilities

The tenant also has responsibilities to the landlord. These include:

  • Ensuring their living space is free from damages and hazards
  • Compliance with all Tennessee housing and safety codes
  • Maintaining cleanliness at a level set forth by the landlord
  • Avoiding any illegal activity
  • Not deliberately destroying or damaging the premises
  • Not disturbing other tenants or neighbors

Security Deposit

Tennessee law does not have a limit on the allowed amount a landlord may request for a security deposit.

The security deposit must be returned 30 days after the tenant vacates the rental unit or 7 days after a new tenant takes possession of the premises. A landlord is responsible for paying damages if they wrongfully withhold a tenant’s security deposit. However, specific damage amounts are not provided by Tennessee law. The landlord can withhold a security deposit for the following reasons:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Damage caused by the tenant beyond ordinary wear and tear
  • Any other reason outlined in the lease agreement

Landlord’s must provide the tenant a list of damages to be deducted from the security deposit with the specific cost of the repair(s). If the tenant does not respond within 60 days, the landlord can retain the security deposit.

Rent and Fees

Tennessee does not have any laws that limit rent prices or increases in rent. In fact, Tennessee law prevents local jurisdictions from passing ordinances to control the amount of rent charged. Landlords can increase the rent for any amount without providing the tenant any justification. Also, the landlord can raise the rent without providing a tenant any advanced notice.

Landlords can charge late fees for amounts up to 10% of the unpaid rent payment. Returned check fees are limited to $30.

Tennessee tenants can withhold their rent payments for the following reasons:

  • Landlord failed to provide a habitable dwelling
  • Landlord failed to provide essential services (e.g. water and heat)

If a tenant decides to withhold rent, they must file a complaint with local officials and pay the amount due to the county where they reside.

Evictions

Evictions can occur in Tennessee under the following circumstances:

  • Nonpayment of rent (5-day grace period, excluding Sundays and legal holidays)
  • Lease violation
  • No lease or end of lease
  • Violation of health, building, safety or housing code
  • Illegal Acts

For all evictions a Notice to Quit (or for nonpayment, a Notice to Pay) is required. A landlord cannot evict a tenant in retaliation or based on discriminatory reasons.

Tenants can end a lease early for the following listed reasons:

  • Early termination clause
  • Active military duty
  • Uninhabitable unit
  • Landlord lease violation
  • Landlord harassment

If a Tennessee tenant breaks the lease early, landlords are required to re-rent a unit and not charge the tenant for the remaining payments due under the lease.

Lease Termination Notice

If the lease is Week-to-Week, the landlord must provide a 10-day termination notice. If the lease is Month-to-Month, the tenant must provide a 30-day termination notice.

If a tenant wants to renew their lease, they must notify the landlord in writing at least 30 days prior to the expiration of their current lease.

Relevant State Agencies

Tennessee Housing Development Agency

City-Specific Links

Nashville:

Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency

Water

Electricity

Gas

Memphis:

Memphis Housing Authority

Water

Electric

Gas

Knoxville:

Knoxville Housing Programs

Water

Electric

Gas

Official Rules and Regulations

Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act