A Tennessee rental agreement is a legal contract between a landlord overseeing a rental property and a tenant who wishes to use it. Tennessee landlord-tenant law governs these agreements; rental terms must be within the limits allowed by law.
Tennessee Rental Agreement Types
Tennessee Required Residential Lease Disclosures
- Landlord’s Name and Address (required for all leases) – Tennessee lease agreements must include contact information for the landlord or an authorized agent. This enables smooth communication and delivery of legal notice.
- Security Deposit Holdings Disclosure (required for some leases) – A Tennessee landlord who is charging a security deposit must disclose the institution holding the deposit to the tenant.
- Right To Enter for Showings Disclosure (required for some leases) – A Tennessee landlord who wishes to show the rental property during the lease term must disclose this and get the tenant’s agreement in the lease. The landlord’s other rights of entry are unaffected, whether or not the tenant agrees to a showings policy.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some leases) – For any property built before 1978, federal law requires that a Tennessee residential lease must contain a lead-based paint disclosure with an EPA informational pamphlet, plus notice of any lead hazards on the property.
To learn more about required disclosures in Tennessee, click here.
Tennessee Landlord Tenant Laws
- Warranty of Habitability – Tennessee landlords can only rent out property that’s habitable, which means providing health and safety features like heat, hot water, plumbing, and electricity. A landlord must make repairs to any legally necessary feature within 14 days of proper notice from the tenant. Otherwise, a tenant can ask a court to order repairs, lease cancellation, or compensation, plus reasonable attorney fees. Tennessee tenants aren’t allowed to repair and deduct, or withhold rent.
- Evictions –Tennessee landlords may evict for rent default, lease violations, or illegal acts, among other things. Before filing eviction, landlords must serve tenants with prior notice to pay or quit, depending on the eviction type. This means most evictions in Tennessee take between four to eight weeks.
- Security Deposits – Tennessee has no maximum cap on a security deposit. Landlords must return any unused portion of the deposit within 30 days of lease termination (60, if the tenant is silent regarding a refund). Counties with fewer than 75,000 people do not have to keep these standards, and get governed entirely by what’s in the lease.
- Lease Termination – Tennessee tenants can break a month-to-month with 30 days of advance notice. A fixed-term lease can’t be terminated early without active military duty, landlord harassment, uninhabitable property, or domestic abuse.
- Rent Increases and Fees – Tennessee does not cap the frequency or amount of rent increases, or require justification or advance notice before an increase. Fees do have some limitations. Late rent payments can’t charge more than 10% of the missing amount as a fees, and bounced check fees are capped at $30.
- Landlord Entry –Tennessee landlords have a right to enter rental property for inspections, maintenance, and emergencies. The landlord can also choose some special standards related to property showings if the right language is agreed in the lease. They must provide “reasonable” notice (usually at least 24 hours) before any entry, except in emergency situations.
- Settling Legal Disputes – Tennessee allows landlord-tenant disputes in small claims court as long as the value in controversy is under $25,000. Unlike many other state court systems, Tennessee small claims has jurisdiction to deal with evictions as well. The statute of limitations is 6 years for rent-related claims, and 3 years for other types of disputes.
To learn more about landlord tenant laws in Tennessee, click here.