Tennessee Rental Laws

Written on April 13, 2014 by , updated on April 5, 2018

Flag of TennesseeThis article summarizes the 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 the responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, you should contact 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

Security Deposit:

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: Five days, from the day rent is due, excluding Sundays and legal holidays. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))
  • Late Fees: Landlords can charge a late fee for past due rent, beginning after the fifth day that rent is due. Late fees cannot exceed 10% of the past due rent. (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. The tenant must file a complaint with a building inspector or with the county public health department. If the landlord has not made the necessary repairs within 30 days, the tenant is allowed to pay rent to the county clerk 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 showing the property. This must be 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. In the statute, “emergency” is defined as “a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.” (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-507)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: If the written rental agreement requires the tenant to have utility services 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 utility services terminated if the services are in the landlords name. (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): The vehicle has one (1) or more flat or missing tires;
    • Dead: The vehicle is unable to operate under its own power;
    • Broken Glass: The vehicle’s windshield is missing or broken, or if there are one more windows that are broken or missing;
    • Missing Fenders: One (1) or more missing fenders or bumpers; or
    • Noncompliance: The vehicle has not been in compliance with any 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. § 66-28-404)
  • Abandonment of Premises: Landlord can assume abandonment by the tenant if: (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405)
    • The tenant is absent from the premises for more than thirty (30) days or more without explanation and has not paid the rent, or
    • The tenant has not paid rent within fifteen (15) days past the due date, combined 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 tenant must contact the landlord within 10 days of a notice to enter and take possession of the rental unit and express intent to continue renting the unit. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-405(b)(2))
    • Relocation of Belongings: If tenant fails to contact the landlord, personal property can be removed from the premise, but must be 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 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 all obligations imposed by relevant building and housing codes that affect health and safety;
    • Repairs: Make all repairs and do whatever else necessary keep the premises fit and habitable;
    • 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 for the removal of garbage and other waste.
    • 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 the part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as when the tenant took possession of the rental unit;
    • Trash: Dispose all garbage and other waste from the rental unit to designated collection areas and receptacles;
    • Lawful Activity: Tenants cannot engage in any illegal conduct on the premises, nor “deliberately or negligently” destroy, damage or remove any part of the rental unit, or let anyone else do the same; 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 does not disturb neighbors’ “peaceful enjoyment” of their premise.
  • Name and Addresses: Before a lease begins, the rental unit’s owner must disclose the name and address of the landlord, property owner, and anyone else authorized to manage the property or allowed to receive notice on the owner’s behalf. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-302)
  • Written Leases: A written lease is required for rental agreements that are for three years or longer. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-7-101)
  • 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. § 66-28-108)
  • House Rules and Regulations: A landlord has the right to create rules and regulations at any time, under certain circumstances. The rule can be enforced against the tenant if “reasonable notice” is given of the rule’s creation is given, and it does not substantially change any part of the rental agreement. For more details, see 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 security deposit, making complaints to a government agency, or exercising any legal right. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-514)
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards as an attachment to a written lease.

Court and Legal Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License: Each landlord of one or more dwelling units, in a county with a population over of five hundred thousand (500,000) people, is required to disclose the following information to the local government responsible for enforcing building codes. (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 for each dwelling unit that the landlord owns, leases, or subleases or has the right to own, lease, or sublease.
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565 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • L.Marie

    Can the owner of the park divide his property taxes and have his renters pay a portion? Also, can they make you pay a water bill of 40.00 a month for water when there isn’t a meter any where and can’t water flowers, trees, or gardens. There is no washer, or dishwasher and only 1 person living there. Thank you.

  • L.Marie

    Can the owner of the park divide his property taxes and have his renters pay a portion? Also, can they make you pay a water bill of 40.00 a month for water when there isn’t a meter any where and can’t water flowers, trees, or gardens. Thank you

  • Richard B Kelley

    My son is disabled and survives on SSI. He just renewed the lease on his apartment in Chattanooga that recently increased rent by 60%. The lease has an addendum for classifying the multi-use property under Section 42 Tax relief. The addendum required his signature. Nothing has been mentioned about a rent cap nor was he required to certify his income and assets. How can a property owner seek tax relief under Section 42 and not offer or disclose the possibility tenants?

    Richard Kelley

  • Carl D. Benson

    Landlord, will not return calls, text or Gmail’s. The other renter, running generator and fumes are coming in my unit. Need to know my options?

  • Brenda lopes

    I recently renewed my lease, and I am receiving Social Security benefits due to having a weak heart, congested heart failure and I received a defibrillator in January 2018. My son Pays half of my rent but is now relocating and my income will not cover my monthly expenses . My cardiologist says I can live alone so my daughter offered for me to live with her. Can I break my lease if I get a letter from my doctor? I am willing to give my 60 day notice and pay the rent but they are sling $2500 up front prior to my 60 day notice for early termination which I don’t have. What are my options?

  • C. Lewis

    What agency would I report a landlord to, if they knowingly left an apartment without working smoke detectors?

    It was reported to them in person, however they were about to close for the weekend and their instruction was remove the smoke detectors from the wall (unplug from the hardwire) and somebody would check on them the following week. Nobody showed up.

  • John Brewster

    I have a single-family house for rent. What are the laws in Tennessee regarding emotional support animals or service animals. Can I charge a pet fee and pet rent for them. I know it’s different if I have more than four unit complex. What are the laws regarding a single-family house?

    • Tyler

      Hi John,

      The landlord MAY NOT do the following if you have an Emotional Support Animal
      1. Charge you a monthly “pet” fee (ESA’s are not considered pets).
      2. Discriminate by the breed of your animal
      3. Discriminate by the weight of your animal

      As of July 1, 2019
      The landlord MAY do the following if you have an Emotional Support Animal
      1. Require requests for exceptions to no-pet policies in leases from disabled tenants who require the use of a service or support animal.
      2. Landlords can now require the tenants to submit reliable documentation of a disability and the disability-related need for a service or support animal.
      3. The landlord may deny requests if the tenant fails to submit the documentation.

      Visit us at mypetcerts.com

  • Gwen

    We just celebrated a year in this house. Our landlord gives us a “$200 discount” on months that he is not required to make repairs to the property. We’re fairly handy & haven’t had too many problems we couldn’t fix for less than the “discount:. Last week, however, a 40+ foot tree limb fell from the sweet gum tree in the front yard onto our truck while we were at work. The tree appeared healthy & the weather was beautiful. We cut 2/3’s of the limb back to recover our truck which received superficial damages. Our landlord says we’re responsible for removing the limb still hanging from the tree, though it’s not included in our lease & would cost more than double the “discount” to remove. Who’s responsible for maintaining existing trees?

  • Deirdre

    I have been living in an apartment complex for 6 months. In that time I have experienced a water leakage issue from the same source (upstairs bathroom) on four different occasions, each getting progressively worse. Notifications were given and the issues were seemingly fixed at the time of the complaint. However, due to the issue reoccurring and spreading, I am wondering if I can break my lease. There is no evident mold but there are still visible water stains.

  • Harley

    What’s the occupancy max for 2bd in TN-Davidson county?

    I manage for a mom and pop- a married couple has 3 young kids. My owner says it’s over the max occupancy. I always understood its 2 per BD +1.

    Whose correct?

  • Dontray Jeffries

    Been at this hotel for 3 years and never received any occupancy tax nor any tax credit nor a guest refund and now I’m being checked out at the end of the month and checked back in. I checked a invoice I have and those exempts are going somewhere so do you think I have a case.

  • NANCY R. WILLIAMS

    I have a question regarding Public HOUSING. Can Public Housing come into your unit and take your private belongings to the garbage dump without giving notice to tenant?

  • NANCY R. WILLIAMS

    I have a question regarding Public HOUSING. Can Public Housing come into your unit and take your private belongings to the garbage dump without giving notice to tenant?

  • Chisa Brown

    Lanlord gave us 30 day notice to vacate tomorrow June 30th and we have no where to go and no money to move after my husband became injured in a motorcycle accident and returned to work in light duty June 8th. The landlord was very supportive at first but then told us we had to leave and would not except any money less than monthly rent that we offered to him. He would always ask for cash and never give receipts and our lease was up in January so we have just been living here with no other lease offered. What can we do. We cannot afford to be evicted. Also i don’t think the landlord has a renters liscense.

  • John Day

    T.C.A. Title 66, Property, Chapter 28 Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, applies to only Tennessee counties having a population of 75,000 or more. You need to clarify that in your article.

  • Jonathan

    I currently am living in an apartment with my roommate as one of the two people on the lease, but for financial reasons my parents had to come stay with us as my dad looks for a new job so we have set them as guests. They have been with us for quite a while(longer than six months) but my mom has been helping pay bills with her disability, and my dad finally has several job opportunities that will be heard back from within the next few weeks. SO, considering that they will be going to their own place again as soon as possible after the first check,and our lease is going out in the next few months, would there be any possible legal issues that may pop up?

  • Brian M.

    Hi Lucas,
    Appreciate your help in advance.
    Are they’re by chance any laws in Tn. goevening protection to a tenant unemployed temporarily due to an injury preventing the ability to return to work while awaiting a workers compensation “loss of wages” check when the rent is now due today?
    I am awaiting additional medical treatment to heal but I’m the mean time, the insurance co. is slow & “slackish” about starting my legal compensation I am due. My employment is my only source of income. I have discussed this with landord & offered, in exchange for inconvienances, that next month’s rent would be paid early along with this month’s late & have offered to help if possible in any measure capable to offset the burden. She gave me 5 days to pay.

  • Lisa Chambers

    I have a verbal month to month agreement with my renter. He wanted to move his girlfriend in and they were to share costs. I allowed it but told him he is solely responsible for paying the utilities and rent. They split up but they purchased a bedroom suit together and they both want it. She is moving her stuff out. Do I have any legal obligations to stop her if she tries to take the bed without his consent. I have also learned from him that she has not paid her part of the rent or electric bill in two months. He says he has emails from her to prove it. Help!

  • Yvonne James

    I am a tenant of a single-family home in Shelby County, TN. My lease expired and am now on a month-to-month. Recently, my aging grandfather moved in with me. My landlord, who is a family member, agreed that it was okay. My question is, since he has moved in, my landlord has stated that she does not want anyone else to have keys to the house. I may have to have other family members to have keys in the event there is an emergency or even if they want to come by and visit with him when I am away. I still work and do work long hours some days. She does not want anyone who is not on the lease to have keys to the place. My landlord says that if I may copies of keys and give them to anyone else she will evict me. Can she do this?

  • Wanda

    I am in an apartment in Ooltewah, TN. The tenants above me are noisy. I’ve talked with the landlord about the noise. They said they could only ask them to not be noisy during the quite hours which are about (I think) 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

    They said they couldn’t say anything to the tenants during the other times. Is that true? Can they ask the tenants to not be noisy at all-not just during the quiet hours?

    Thank you,

  • Carla Jackson

    I was married in Mar 3,2018 or landlord was provided with copy of our marriage certificate. My husband passed Mar 10, 2019. Tried on numerous occasions to get manager to tell me what I needed to do to secure my home she said “nothing cause we were married there was nothing to do until lease was up”. Now mine months later she is telling me I’m not on the lease I have been denied housing voucher for to this and received eviction notice on dec. 11,2019. Please tell me what I can do I’m scared to death because I have absolutely no where to go

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