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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538 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Ashley Turner

    I rent a house in Rickman, TN. I have been renting for 1yr. and 1 month. I just renewed my lease which is month to month. I have NEVER been late on rent and have all receipts to prove this. My first lease said I have until the 5th day of the month to pay before it’s considered “late.” Now my new lease says I only have until the 3rd day to pay or the landlords will start charging a late fee. They said because the mortgage comes out of their bank on the first I only have until the 3rd. One…..I can’t help it that their mortgage comes out on the first of the month, and two…..I thought in Tennessee you legally can’t charge a late fee until after the 5th day? Am I right? If so….what can I do if they charge me late fees on the 3rd?

    • Cheryl

      Here’s a copy of the statue regarding late fee. The landlord is legally required to allow at least a five day grace period and cannot charge a late fee

      66-28-201. Terms and conditions.

      (a) The landlord and tenant may include in a rental agreement, terms and conditions not prohibited by this chapter or other rule of law including rent, term of the agreement, and other provisions governing the rights and obligations of parties. A rental agreement cannot provide that the tenant agrees to waive or forego rights or remedies under this chapter. The landlord or the landlord’s agent shall advise in writing that the landlord is not responsible for, and will not provide, fire or casualty insurance for the tenant’s personal propert

  • Samantha

    I have been living in the same mobile home for 18 months. In April a new property manager came in and we were advised if rent is late the late day changed from the 15th to the 10th any rent not paid after the 10th you would have to sign a payment arrangement. I did so in may, rent was on time in June, signed a payment arrangement in July and now I am told that they will not accept a payment arrangement and I will be turned over to an attorney. If I pay my rent on the 15th I must include a $300 attorney fee.. but no where does my lease state this information.. can they charge me an attorney fee prior to notice of an eviction?! I have always paid all late fees and intended to do so on the 15th of this month as well.

  • Patty

    In TN,the law on getting someone to move their mobile home off your land

  • Sharon Tran

    There was a murder in an apartment next door. In the apartment down stairs from it a stripper runs a business. There are several of them in this complex. I see that as not only illegal but I might as well be living next door to a sex offender. She has a pole in her living room installed. We have been here two months. I feel unsafe, but cannot convence my husband that we should be able to move without penality and get our deposit back. We should not be have to live by people like this or feel in danger. What can I give him so he can take it to the landlord and release us from this apartment hell.

  • Amanda

    So I have been living in the same rental for over a year now, our lease was up when it hit the year mark and now we live month to month. The air conditioning unit finally gave out due to being almost 20 years old. Does my landlord have to fix this as far as replace the broken old unit with a new one?….also bc now knowing the unit was faulty is why our electric bill for the past 4 months has trippled, as well as the duct work and floor vents have been covered in condensation and heavy mold. Our basement is covered in mold the duct work is tore open in so many places, so saturated with water it’s unreal I’m 7 months pregnant, a new born should not be brought hthink I should be be able to do something about the situation am I wrong?

  • Michelle

    Is it legal for a landlord to put a camera in the front and back of property to see if we are having guests over and to threaten with eviction if there are more than 8 people in the home

  • Marsha

    Is it legal in Tennessee to demand repayment of security deposit used for a month’s rent?

    I allowed my tenant to use the security deposit for a month’s rent to keep him current. We agreed he will repay the deposit over ten months. I sent an e-mail confirming the discussion the same day, plus notice to repay security deposit or vacate stating the time limit to repay.
    No effort has been made to make even one payment. Now he wants to extend the time for another three and a half months.

  • Tom Price

    I’ve rented an all-inclusive place, Johnson city TN since 1/14. I fell on hard times lead to 3 mths behind. Found notes on my door from constable but wasnt served due to unavailability. No surprise but actually kinda was as I hadnt received a 14 day to cure letter followed by a 16 day to vacate from the landlord. And to my knowledge comes before the 1st step of legal action. After the legal 3 tries on 3 separate days the constable must make, a copy of the summons was left on my door with the normal info. I didn’t receive this until 3 hours after set time (not home all weekend). The next day we were visited by the landlord “went to court yesterday,y’all have 24 hrs to vacate”his words. What,no 10 day appeal? No writ of repossession & 4 day?

  • Holly

    My daughter just moved in a apt the first of month with her boyfriend. She told her landlord her sister might move in to help with rent. The landlord told her she didn’t care who moved in just as long the rent is paid in time. I her mother moved in instead. There has been no problems. The landlord seens to not like me have not talked to her the landlord. But for no reason told my daughter I would have to move she gave in reason. Is this ok and if is how long do I have to move?

  • toban chapman

    my son lives in nashville tn. and pays weekly for rent. how much notice does the landlord have to give before he has to move out.

  • Linda Shipes

    I am praying someone can answer this for me! I am a 70 year old handicap lady, with custody of my 14 year old granddaughter. We have just moved into a house last Sunday, and the landlord has been over every day to inspect! He threw a fit when he saw my granddaughter eating a cookie in her room, and then when he saw a pot in the sink from making her a cup of hot cocoa, and each day he finds something to YELL at me about! We are CLEAN, I have EXCELLENT references, and we live what I believe are normal lives! But I can’t take listening to him for an hour or two every day about something he doesn’t ‘allow’! He even calls me to repeat everything! Is he allowed to inspect daily? How can I stop this madness? HELP please?

    • What part of the state are you in?

      What part of the state do you live in?

    • Laquita

      You need to get with Legal Aid in your city. He shouldn’t be coming by everyday like that. That is your home now, you are paying him rent he needs to back off! If there are damages he can take it out of the deposit when you move, but he shouldn’t be coming by and dictating what rooms you can eat in. Block his number. He doesn’t need to be calling you either.

  • sherry

    Does anybody know the laws related to commercial lease CAM fees? My impressions was this was supposed to be equally shared between all tenants. Is this true?

  • Kate Gonzales

    In Tennessee is it legal for a property manager to deliver a 3 day eviction notice by phone text ? Reason given , several warnings to tenant for breaching contract due to noise. Tenant rented for 3 years and always paid rent on time. Shouldn’t he have been given 30 days notice?

  • LaShea

    I normally go to bed between 9pm-10pm. I have requested that my landlord not contact me after 10pm on weeknights, due to me working and attending school full time. He has broken this on several occassions. Just tonight, he came down to my apartment after 10 p.m. and began knocking on my door aggressively and ringing my doorbell several times. Of course I panicked, because I thought it was an emergency, but that was not the case. He just had a question about my lease he wanted to ask me. He became upset at me because I did not answer the door or answer his phone calls ( I was in bed). He told me that he was going to evict me and I had thirty days to get out. Is he legally allowed to do this?


    i payed my first years rent up front. security deposit and a pet deposit. he did cut a discount on the security deposit but on second year wants the rest of itit was supposed to be 1650. but in the first years contract he wrote 500.. now he wants the remainder 1150 plus first months rent in march when i start month to month. can he legally do that?


    i payed my first years rent up front. security deposit and a pet deposit. he did cut a discount on the security deposit but on second year wants the rest of itit was supposed to be 1650. but in the first years contract he wrote 500.. now he wants the remainder 1150 plus first months rent in march when i start month to month. can he legally do that? and he wants a pet deposit again. not sure other wise hes a great landlord. no problems

  • Tina

    I was wondering, I’ve been renting a house for about 5 months now and the place was terrible when I moved in! The landlord said there would NOT be a security damage deposit when I paid the first and last month rent! He said he would buy anything I needed to fix the place up! Well he never did so now I’m moving for other reasons but the place never got anything done to it! Now I told them I’m moving by the end of this month a couple of weeks ago! Well now the landlord wants to inspect the place! Do I have to let her in because I did NOT PAY a security damage deposit?

  • Robbie Bateman

    My father owns the trailer park and freely gave me one unit to permanently live in and I’m only required to pay the electricity bill that is in his name. This was a verbal agreement. Because of a disagreement over the placement of a piece of furniture he has ordered that I leave.he has turned off the power and blocked the back door.what are my rights.im living in hamblen county Tennessee

  • Karina Jauregui

    I am currently a homeowner on a mobile home lot. The Park manager said that she had given a notice on the side of my front door. But I never got it. I’ve never paid lot rent late. She’s only evicting because my wife just got out of prison and is not on the lease. But I told her the whole situation. What rights do I have owning that home? May I atleast rent it to another tenant?

  • Harriet

    My husband and I were handed a letter as official notice pursuant to tn code annotated 66-28-505 because there were alledged “numerous reports of loud noise & disturbing behavior”. We are good tenants, pay our rent and bills before or on time, we don’t want to bother our neighbor and have always been mindful with our sound and actions. They don’t believe us when we say those noises are not from us. The last complaint we receive proved that the noise wasn’t from us. We are not comfortable living in a complex to which we will be evicted for false noise allegations. We spoke with them but they don’t want us to leave the complex, but we don’t need an “eviction” in our record for the reason mentioned above. How can we terminate our lease asap

  • Nicole

    I am renting a house and was out of town when the toilet broke. I came home to find my bedroom, bathroom and closet flooded. I contacted the landlord and spent hours cleaning the water up. the next day I heard back from the landlord and had a plummer out to fix the toilet and someone out to assess the water damage. the Landlord was given the info from the inspector on the water damage and their recommendations. the landlord replied to me that it would be 5 days before she could get someone to come fix or further assess the problem. I am wanting to know what options I have in getting the landlord to move on this faster related to the possibility of mold and the difficulty with having to live with the smell and other concerns for my family

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