Tennessee Eviction Process

Tennessee Eviction Process

Last Updated: September 22, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

Steps of the eviction process in Tennessee:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice.
  2. Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
  3. Court holds hearing & issues judgment.
  4. Writ of possession is issued.
  5. Possession of property is returned to landlord.

Evicting a tenant in Tennessee can take around four to eight weeks, depending on the reason for the eviction and where the property is located. If tenants file an appeal, the process can take longer.

Questions? To chat with a Tennessee eviction attorney, click here

Grounds for an Eviction in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms, violating health and safety codes, and illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 14 Days Maybe
End of / No Lease 30 Days No
Lease Violation 14 Days or 30 Days Maybe
Material Health/Safety Violation 3 Days No
Illegal Activity 3 Days No
note

The amount of notice depends on the county’s population. For counties with a population of 75,000 people or more, the eviction process is regulated under the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA). For counties with a population of 75,000 people or fewer, the eviction process is regulated under the Tennessee Code. Additionally, the majority of the information in this article is subject to URLTA as Tennessee Code is quite limited on most landlord-tenant issues.

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In Tennessee, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 14 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Tennessee 5 days after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the sixth of the month (if not paid in full). Tennessee has a legal grace period of 5 days, if the last day of the grace period is on a Sunday or legal holiday, rent must be paid the next business day.

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease

In Tennessee, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (30 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

In Tennessee, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Tennessee Code or URLTA. Some violations allow the tenant to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid removal and other violations do not allow the tenant to fix the issue (“incurable”) and must vacate immediately.

Tenant responsibilities include:

  • Complying with all building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety.
  • Keeping the premises clean and safe.
  • Disposing of all rubbish, garbage, and other waste into receptacles.
  • Not deliberately or negligently destroying, defacing, impairing or removing any part of the premises.
  • Not disturbing the neighbor’s peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Examples of lease violations:

  • Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.
  • Damaging the electrical wiring.
  • Breaking a window.

Lease Violations Subject to URLTA

  • Curable Violations. For counties with a population more than 75,000 people, landlords must follow the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act. If the violation is remediable by the cost of repairs, the landlord must give 14 days’ notice to correct the issue or vacate. The tenant has the option to fix the violation or move out.
  • Subsequent Violation. If the same violation occurs within a 6-month period, the landlord may terminate the lease agreement with a 7 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the option to fix the violation and must move out.
  • Incurable Violations. If the violation is not remediable by the cost of repairs, the landlord may provide a 14 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the option to fix the violation and must move out.

Lease Violations Subject to Tennessee Code 

  • Curable Violations. For counties with a population with fewer than 75,000 people, landlords must follow Tennessee Code. If the lease violation is damage beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord must give 14 days’ notice to correct the issue or vacate. The tenant has the option to fix the violation or move out.
  • Subsequent Violations. If the same violation occurs within a 6-month period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement with a 14 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the option to fix the violation and must move out.
  • Incurable Violations. For all other lease violations (not including damage beyond normal wear and tear), landlords must provide tenants with a 30 days’ notice to vacate without the option to fix the issue.

Eviction for Material Health / Safety Violation

In Tennessee, a landlord can evict a tenant if they violate a health, building, safety, or housing code. To do so, landlords must give 3 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the opportunity to fix the issue and must move out.

Examples of material health and safety violations include:

  • Letting trash pile up inside the rental unit.
  • Providing a harbor for rodents or bugs.
  • Falsifying a disability or a disability-related need for a service or support animal (for dwelling units that are under URLTA).

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may file an eviction action with the court.

Eviction for Illegal Activity

In Tennessee, a landlord can evict a tenant for illegal activity. To do so, landlords must give 3 days’ notice to vacate.  The tenant does not have the opportunity to fix the issue and must move out.

Illegal activity subject to URLTA includes:

  • Engaging or promoting prostitution.
  • Willfully or intentionally committing a violent act.
  • Endangering or threatening to endanger the health, safety or welfare of others or their property.
  • Allowing an unauthorized subtenant or occupant to live in the dwelling.
  • Manufacturing, delivering, selling or possessing a controlled substance.

Illegal activity subject to Tennessee Code (counties with less than 75,000 people):

  • Committing a violent act.
  • Engaging in drug-related criminal activity.
  • Behaving in a manner that threatens the life of the property or others.
  • Allowing an unauthorized subtenant or occupant to live in the dwelling.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed and file an eviction lawsuit.

warning

Illegal Evictions in Tennessee

In Tennessee, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant actual damages sustained by the tenant, punitive damages, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks.
  • Shutting off utilities.
  • Removing tenant belongings.

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining about a lease violation to the landlord.
  • Pursuing a legal right to remedy lease violation issues.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Tennessee by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  • Delivering it to the tenant in person.
  • Mailing a copy to the tenant.
  • Emailing the notice to the tenant (if it’s an agreed upon service method in the lease agreement).

It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice. 

14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (Nonpayment of Rent)

If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Tennessee, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 14 judicial days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.

This notice is applicable to all counties in Tennessee.

30-Day Notice to Quit (No Lease/End of Lease)

For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in Tennessee, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.

However, for tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
Week-to-Week 10 Days
Month-to-Month 30 Days

This notice applies to all counties in Tennessee.

14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate (Curable Lease Violation)

In Tennessee, if a tenant commits a lease violation, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to fix the issue or move out.

This notice is applicable to all counties in Tennessee.

14-Day Notice to Quit (Subsequent Lease Violation-Tennessee Code)

In Tennessee, if the same lease violation occurs within a 6-month period, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to counties with 75,000 people or fewer.

7-Day Notice to Quit (Subsequent Lease Violation- URLTA)

In Tennessee, if the lease violation occurs within a 6-month period, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to counties with 75,000 people or more.

14-Day Notice to Quit (Irremediable Lease Violation-URLTA)

In Tennessee, if the tenant commits a lease violation (other than damaging the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear), the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to counties with 75,000 people or more.

30-Day Notice to Quit (Irremediable Lease Violation- Tennessee Code)

In Tennessee, if the tenant commits a lease violation (other than damaging the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear) the landlord can serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 30 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to counties with 75,000 people or fewer.

3-Day Notice to Quit (Health & Safety Violation)

In Tennessee, if the tenant violates a material health and safety code, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 3 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to all counties in Tennessee.

3-Day Notice to Quit (Illegal Activity)

In Tennessee, if the tenant commits an illegal activity, the landlord can serve them a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 3 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

This notice is applicable to all counties in Tennessee.

Questions? To chat with a Tennessee eviction attorney, click here

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court

As the next step in the eviction process, Tennessee landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. Filing fees may vary.

The summons and complaint may be served on the tenant by the sheriff, constable, or a private process server prior to the hearing through one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant (or anyone else on the rental property) in person;
  2. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit six days prior to the hearing AND mailing a copy via regular mail; or
  3. Mailing a copy via certified mail.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com6 days. If the summons and complaint are served by posting and mailing via first class mail, they must be served six days prior to the hearing.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 3: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment

The eviction hearing must be held at least six days after the summons and complaint are served on the tenant. However, either party can request a 15-day postponement.

If the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the judicial officer may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will have to move out.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued and the eviction process will continue.

If tenants file an appeal, this will add more time to the process.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com6 days. The eviction hearing will be held at least six days after the summons is served on the tenant.

Eviction Writ of Possession on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 4: Writ of Possession is Issued

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before law enforcement officials return to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.

The writ of possession cannot be issued until 10 days after the ruling in favor of the landlord. This gives tenants time to file an appeal if they wish.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com10 days. The writ will be issued 10 days after the ruling in favor of the landlord.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

Once law enforcement officials receive the writ of possession, they must remove tenants from the rental unit immediately. There is no grace period under Tennessee law.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comImmediately. The tenant must move out immediately once they are given the writ of possession.

Tennessee Eviction Process Timeline

In Tennessee, an eviction can be completed in 4 to 8 weeks but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

Below are the parts of the Tennessee eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 3-30 Calendar Days
Court Issuing/Serving Summons 6 Business Days
Court Ruling 6 Business Days
Court Serving Writ of Possession 10 Business Days
Final Notice Period Immediately
Questions? To chat with a Tennessee eviction attorney, click here

Flowchart of Tennessee Eviction Process

Tennessee Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Tennessee, please refer to the official legislation, Tennessee Code § 66-7, and the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act §66-28 and § 66-28-405, for more information.

Sources