As a landlord in Tennessee, you have an obligation to yourself and to your tenants to know as much as possible about Tennessee landlord tenant laws, and LandlordStation.com wants to help you. The following is a general summary of TN landlord tenant laws to assist you in finding out more about these laws.
Understanding as much as you can about both the landlord and tenant side of the law is important to both facilitating a harmonious rental agreement and protecting yourself should tension arise. What follows should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice concerning rental laws in this state can, and should only, be obtained from a licensed Tennessee attorney.
The legislation governing Tennessee landlord tenant laws begins in Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-101 and is known as the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. The legally defined purpose of this act is to accomplish the following:
• Simplify, clarify, modernize, and revise the laws that govern the lease of dwelling units and the rights and responsibilities of landlord and tenant
• Encourage landlord and tenant to maintain and improve the quality of housing
• Promote equal protection to all involved parties
The TN landlord tenant laws covered in this act are only applicable to counties with a population over 68,000. Exceptions to this population rule can be found at www.tn.gov/consumer. This law also does not apply to transient lodging or lodging provided as a part of a service. For example, room occupancy at a hotel or motel and residence at an institution that provides medical, geriatric, educational, counseling, or religious services are not included.
Under its landlord tenant law, Tennessee allows for both oral and written rental agreements. This agreement, however, may not in any way circumvent the rights and obligations assigned to you and your tenant by the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. As administrator of the rental unit, you have several requirements to follow under the law. These include:
• Keeping any security deposits in an account used solely for that purpose
• Informing all prospective tenants of the location of the security deposit account
• Inspecting the rental unit within 3 business days of occupancy termination and compiling a comprehensive list for the tenant of any repairs or cleanup that will be deducted from the security deposit
• Making all repairs to the rental unit, unless the tenant has agreed in writing to perform all or specified repairs
• Complying with all requirements of applicable building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety
• Doing whatever is necessary to put and keep the dwelling unit in a fit and habitable condition
• Keeping all premises common areas in a clean and safe condition
Landlords over complexes of 4 or more units are also responsible for providing and maintaining the appropriate receptacles and services necessary to remove ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste from common collection points. In exchange for performing these responsibilities, the law gives you certain rights. For example, you are allowed reasonable access to the rental premises, may retain unclaimed security deposit refunds after 60 days of refund notification to the tenant, and can begin the eviction process under multiple circumstances.
In addition to knowing and understanding how Tennessee landlord tenant laws apply to you, you should also know how they apply to your tenant. The same legislation that applies to your rights and obligations also applies to a Tennessee tenants rights and obligations. Generally, a tenant's responsibilities under Tennessee law deal with his or her obligations regarding conduct and unit maintenance. These include:
• Complying with all tenant-related provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
• Maintaining the rental premises in as clean and safe of a condition as it was when he or she took possession
• Disposing of all ashes, rubbish, garbage, and other waste from the rental unit
• Abstaining from the destruction, damage, defacement, impairment, or removal of any part of the premises in either a deliberate or negligent manner and requiring any other person on the premises to do the same
• Refraining from engaging in any illegal conduct on the premises
• Acting and requiring other persons on the premises to act in a manner that doesn't disturb any neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the rental premises or their respective dwelling unit
• Following any reasonable rules and regulations concerning use and occupancy of the premises
• Allowing reasonable access of the rental premises to the landlord for the purpose of the inspection, repair, decoration, alteration, improvement, or exhibition of the unit
Conversely, a Tennessee tenants rights include verification or dispute of the accuracy of the security deposit deduction report, possession and peaceful enjoyment of the rental premises, procurement of essential services refused by landlord and deduction of the cost from rent, and obtaining injunctive relief including reasonable attorney's fees for any landlord noncompliance with the rental agreement.It is very important to note that Tennessee landlord tenant laws may not be the only legislation governing your situation. Various federal laws, county codes, and city ordinances may also apply. Though having an understanding about these and other rules can help you troubleshoot and even proactively avoid conflict in your lease agreement, sometimes the situation inevitably needs the guidance of an outside party.
Remember, Landlord Station does not qualify as such an outside party and is merely providing a general summary as an educational tool. The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs offers free mediation services you may use for issues regarding the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. For serious situations or for specific legal advice, always consult a qualified, experienced Tennessee attorney.
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