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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