Tennessee Eviction Laws

Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Tennessee and understand their responsibilities.

Quick Facts for Tennessee

  • Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, lease term violations & illegal acts
  • Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
  • Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 30-Day Notice to Quit for monthly tenants
  • Notice Required for Lease Violations: 14-Day Notice to Cure
  • Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 3 days, via Notice to Quit
  • Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: Not specified, but tenants who wish to contest eviction must attend court hearing

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Tennessee?

The question of the amount of time an eviction will take is always difficult to answer. However, in the state of Tennessee there is an added complication as the regulations differ depending upon the size of the county in which the property is located. When a county has over 75,000 residents, the landlord must follow the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA). If the rental property is located in a county with under 75,000 residents, the landlord must follow the regular Tennessee code regarding evictions.

Regardless of the size of the county in which the property lies, the landlord is required to provide his/her tenant with a written notice before he/she can proceed with the eviction process. The length of the notice required will generally be 14 or 30 days. In extreme cases the landlord may only have to provide the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant fails to vacate the rental property once a notice has expired, without remedying any curable issue, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Once the eviction process enters the court system, it takes on the characteristics of any court process. This then adds to the unpredictable nature of the length of the eviction process.

Ultimately, the amount of time the eviction process can be expected to take will depend upon the reason the eviction is being sought, the size of the county where the property is located, and the tenant’s determination to fight the eviction process.

Reasons for Eviction in Tennessee

Tennessee has established a list of reasons why a landlord can legitimately seek to evict a tenant. These reasons include:

  • Failure to pay rent (T.C.A. 66-109 (a)& 66-25-505)
  • Violating terms of the lease or rental agreement (T.C.A. 66-109 (b))
  • If a tenant or a member of the tenant’s household has participated in illegal activities on the rental property or threatens to be a danger to the health, safety, or of other tenants or the landlord (T.C.A. 66-109 (d))

Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent

When a tenant fails to pay rent on time, in the state of Tennessee, the landlord must provide him/her with a written 14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit before proceeding with the eviction process. The 14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit is consistent regardless of the size of the county in which the rental property is located. If the tenant fails to pay the outstanding rent within the 14 days provided, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Eviction if Rent has Been Paid

A landlord in the state of Tennessee may not proceed with the eviction of a tenant for failure to pay rent if the tenant pays the outstanding rent in full. A tenant may not be evicted for failure to pay rent if the property is uninhabitable for the time that the tenant failed to pay rent.

However, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant, a tenant who is renting without the benefit of a written lease, without cause. To do this the landlord must wait until the end of the term of the rental agreement or provide a tenant without a fixed term with the appropriate written Notice to Quit.

Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease

If the tenant, a member of his/her household, or a guest has caused remediable damage to the rental property beyond what would be expected through normal wear and tear, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written 14-Day Notice to Cure before proceeding with the eviction process. If the tenant has violated any other term of the lease, the landlord is required to provide him/her with a written 14-Day Notice to Cure if the property is within a county of 75,000 residents or more and a 30-Day Notice to Cure if the property is within a county with fewer than 75,000 residents.

If the tenant fails to remedy the issue within the amount of time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

If the tenant, residing in a county with more than 75,000 residents, has violated the same term of the lease within the past six months, the landlord is only required to provide the tenant with a written 7-Day Notice to Quit (T.C.A. 66-28-505). The landlord is not required to provide the tenant with the opportunity to remedy the violation in this case.

If the tenant continues to remain on the property after the amount of time provided in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior

When a Tennessee tenant has committed a violent act on the property, participated in illegal drug related activity on the property, or created a threat to the health, safety, and/or welfare of other tenants, the property, or the landlord, the landlord is only required to provide the tenant with a written 3-Day Notice to Quit before proceeding with the eviction process. If the tenant fails to vacate the rental property within three days, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

If a tenant has used illegal drugs or committed acts of prostitution on the rental property, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with time to vacate the premises but may terminate the rental agreement immediately and proceed with the eviction process.

How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant  in Tennessee When There is no Lease?

How a landlord will deal with an “at-will” tenant will depend upon the terms on which the tenant is renting. If the tenant is renting for a fixed-term, the landlord must wait until the end of the predetermined term before he/she can expect the tenant to vacate the property unless he/she has cause for seeking to evict the tenant.

Read more about tenants at will here.

If an “at-will” tenant is renting on an ongoing basis, the landlord is required to provide the tenant with written indication of his/her intention to discontinue the rental arrangement (T.C.A. 66-28-505). If the landlord is seeking to reclaim his/her rental property from a month-to-month “at-will” tenant, he/she must provide the tenant with a written 30-Day Notice to Quit, before he/she can proceed with the eviction process. If the tenant remains on the property after the time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court.

When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Tennessee?

It is illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant in retaliation for exercising his/her tenant rights. It is also illegal for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant based on his/her race, age, religion, nation of origin, familial status, or disability status.

Once a Notice has Expired

The landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Summons and Complaint with the court. The tenant will receive a copy of the Summons and Complaint, which will provide the time and date of the court hearing on the eviction complaint. If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction, he/she should attend the court hearing. Both parties will be provided with the opportunity to provide their evidence.

Once Eviction Occurs

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given ten days to vacate the rental property. If the tenant continues to remain on the property after the time allowed by the court, the landlord may seek the sheriff’s support in physically removing the tenant.

NOTE

It is illegal for a landlord to seek to physically remove a tenant him/herself.

Make sure to read the Tennessee Code Annotated §§ 66-7-109, 66-28-405, 66-28-505 & 66-28-512 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.

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Eviction Process in Other States

Other Resources for Tennessee Landlords & Tenants