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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512 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Phillip wright

    Can a landlord force a tenant to pay for structural insurance. Not renters but coverage for the actual unit.

  • Rev.melvinlinton

    Can someone please help me. My landlord went up on my rent last year, and then this year is now asking for another $220.00 increase. This outrageous. Is there any legal action against this practice? HELP PLEASE

  • Bernard Deumeni

    Please, can someone help me. last 2017 year , I moved to one city to another to come and continue my education. When I was searching for an apartment, I went to one apartment to visit and they convinced me to apply for a lease. I don’t know if either by mistake or not, they gave me a lease to sign instead of the application to sign. Because I was hurry to go, I signed the lease without taking more time to read through all. they asked me to bring my proof of income and the rest of the two forms of ID. Yesterday, I received a letter from collector service asking me to pay a full among of lease (12 months). please if someone could help me with the advice on how I will process to solve the issue.

  • Katie

    My friends nephew passed away so they are going out of town for the funeral. They will only be gone for the day. An inspection was scheduled and now the landlord wants to enter their home while they are gone instead of coming the next day when they home. She has knowledge of the funeral. She has knowledge that my friend will not be home. Is it legal for them to enter the home when my friend is gone just to make sure the home is clean? It is not a maintenance or repair inspection.

  • Stacye Downing

    Our landlord failed to disclose the lack of storage space that would be available in the rental home due to her storage of personal property. We verbally expressed our displeasure and assured her we would not have rented this home had we known the attic storage was not available. She came by the house for the first time 6 dats after we moved in. She (landlord) believes we can rent a storage unit and be inconvenienced. This is a home in the county.
    We would like to request a reduction in rent as we do not have the entire house as per our lease agreement. Their are no provisions that state we do not rent the entire home.
    We would prefer to be allowed out of the lease, but highly doubt she’d agree.
    Is Rent reduction possible?

  • Rae

    My apt has a “revolving” lease instead of month to month. I’ve been here 2 1/2 yrs. We have black & pink mold, but will be evicted if we complain. Health dept was contacted, but they won’t do anything. When appliances break it can take 3 wks to get another one. There are a lot of safety violations here.
    I need to move back to AZ where it’s hot & dry & I have a letter from my neurologist. Can I break my lease due to medical without being sent to collections? Also, my new lease was for $5 a month less. I have to pay more because the owner won’t change it in the system. Is this legal? If we don’t sign a new lease each year we are evicted, so… the new lease was signed.

  • Hg


    The property we are renting they changed management companies the one before used to have a third party to create the bills for the residents in regards of water and sewage but now this new company MAAC who .netrn to manage this building Acklen t West end in Nashville TN doesn’t work with them anymore, they were doing all the meter reading for that utility and because in this state seems to be allowing Landers to do what they want when we have a city service that will be happy to bill independently each apartment unit they wan to come with random numbers about our readings raising the prices on this. I contacted the metro water service as well as their party company and neither one is doing individual Readingn for this building. Help

  • Veronica

    My husband and I purchased a house and moved from our condo a month and a half early. We have still kept the utilities on and paid rent. When my husband went by to do a walk through to make sure no additional repairs are needed. There were contractors there removing carpet and laying hardwood. There was no notice of entry and the air was blasting with the doors open. Mind you the utilities are still in our name. Our final walk through has not been completed. Is there any action that can be taken?

  • tiffanie kirk

    I would like to receive emails.

  • Barbara Brooks

    I live in an apartment complex. We just got a new manager she called me on the phone and started to me I’m not allowed to park my school bus on the premises so I immediately moved it which I don’t park overnight in the complex. Now there’s also two other commercial vehicles that parks there but they’re there overnight. I moved my commercial vehicle but the others are still parked there, my question is , is that considered under the Fair Housing Act Laws? Not to mention I called the regional manager and spoke with her and she reassured me she would take care of the situation by telling the manager the others can not parked their commercial vehicles on the property but there has been absolutely no results their still parking on the property.

  • Harold M. Murphy

    I have a month to month No place in my (4) pages of that is there any mention of future rent agreements. When (or if) can the Landlord raise my rent.? Thanks, H. M. M.

  • William Brewer

    Is there a limit in amount of pet fees can be collected on Rental property over time? I have been a tenant for 4 years, have paid monthly pet fee of $25.00 every month, so far about $1,200.00 When is it enough?

  • Abby

    Is the age limit 18? It can be different in some states so I’m curious

  • Jake

    Hi, trying to rent a apartment in TN, I submit a application online went to see the place i was not happy with it so I didn’t sing the lease.so I found a deferent place that is run by the same management company. And the other company is trying to charge me admission fees $150. and waver fees $175.can they do that? I didn’t signed anything.

  • Jennifer

    Hello Lucas-
    11 years ago I was approached by my mother and stepfather to help them out. Our discussion on the matter was that if we all agreed and moved to TN and a home was purchased that I would never have to move out, because I would be the sole owner of the house once they passed. I also brought up the fact of relationship status, because I was single at the time. It was agreed upon that if I did enter into a relationship my significant other would move in with me. We have lived in this house now for 10 years. I was just married last week. Today I was told by my stepfather, not my mother, that we have to be out in 6 months.I have paid rent, utilities and have made this my home for 10 years. We have no written agreement. What can I do?

  • Eva Stracener

    In Memphis TN, can you be evicted for turning landlord over to code enforcement? Been fighting with them for year. AC caught fire, then stolen, fire coming out plugs. Please help

  • Gabby W.

    My grandma has just begun renting a house. She is currently in the process of moving her stuff in and so she still is sleeping at mine and my parents house. Earlier today she went inside and noticed that the cushions on her couch were knocked over and the opposite of how she left it. Later she called because the air would not work. They talked for a while and the landlord said that he didn’t know she was moving in immediately. He also said that he noticed that she had bought groceries. When she told him about her sons coming over to mow the lawn he was kinda mad. To me it seems like the landlord has been going over WITHOUT NOTICE. I’m not sure what to do. He also seemed excited when she mention that she’s going out of town. Is this legal??

  • Linda Ware

    Can the complex I moved out of on 06/01/18, use my security deposit for late fees?

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  • Rowil

    My hubby and I are asked to move out of our apartment because manager said we have high income now. I don’t get it. Can they do it to us? Please help! Thanks.

  • Amy

    I am trying to move out in 30 days . My lease is not up until Feb . I have found many people to lease unit & they have turned them away . They keep coming up with reasons in why they won’t lease it . I even found someone willing to pay $200 more a month if they would replace the carpet . They said no . I found another to take over my lease & they are stating they have to sign a yr lease . But my lease is up in February. I also reside in this building b/c I leased another property from them prior , had a lease renewal sent to me , I signed & then a few days later told me they had to take it back because they sold the property. I was forced to find something quickly & in the area my kids are zoned for school. Do I ended up where I am

  • MelV

    What if you’re having your property stolen by someone with a key, and the only other person with a key is your landlord? $200 in cash the first time, $600 in cash the second time. And before anyone states the obvious, and asks why the cash was there, I had good reason. Besides, next time it could be my appliances or other valuables. The lease states that I am not allowed to change the locks. If I do, there’s a $150 fee. I would then be evicted. I’ve already made a police report, copied it and sent certified letters to management. Management called and said they’re going to *try* and put up a security camera. I’m not sure what good that will do, since someone within their employ is the thief and has access to the master key. This person will likely have access to the camera footage as well. And I have no confidence that they would follow through with the camera placement anyway. What are my options here? I put a new lock on for now, but it’s only a matter of time before I get fined for it. An employee has already said something about it verbally, and demanded that the old locks be put back on. Is my right to safety being violated? Would a court side with me as far as breaking the lease?

  • Edward A Price Jr

    We have just gotten our 3rd owner of our apts. I understand if a person pays late they are going to be charged a late fee, that is normal, but in addition to the late fee the new owners are also charging an additonal $3.50 fee for every day after the 5 day grace period. Is this allowed when a tennant is still under the old contract. When I asked the apt office about this they said to check your emails and they are allowed to do this. Is this true please help.

  • Tyrone Bateman

    Me an a ex was living together… he sign my name with me knowing. An remove my name off the lease. Can I sue him an the apartment complex

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