This is a summary of Tennessee Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Code of Tennessee, the  Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Tennessee landlord-tenant laws, Tennessee eviction laws, and Tennessee renters’ rights. 

However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.  If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.

FREE TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD

Create a Custom 
Rent Collection Policy in Minutes

Get instant access and generate your iron-clad rent collection policy.
DOWNLOAD

Rules and Regulations Governing Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws

Tennessee Lease Terms Provisions


Security Deposits

  • What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
    There is no Tennessee law limiting security deposits.
  • Are security deposits required to earn interest?

No. There is no Tennessee law requiring security deposits to earn interest.

  • Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account? 

Yes. Landlords must keep deposits in a financial institution subject to state and federal regulations. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301)

  • Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?

No. There is no Tennessee law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge. 

  • How long do landlords have to return security deposits?

Landlords must retain security deposits for 60 days after notifying a former tenant they are owed at least part of the deposit back. The landlord must send this notification to the last known or reasonably ascertainable address of the former tenant, and if they do not receive a claim or response within 60 days, the landlord may keep the deposit free of all remaining claims. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(f))

  • Can landlords withhold security deposits?

Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent and to repair any damages to the property caused by the tenant. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301)

  • Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?

Yes. An itemized list, detailing damages noticed and an estimated cost of repairing those damages must be provided to the tenant. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(1)(B))

  • Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?

No. There is no Tennessee law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.

  • Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?

No. There is no Tennessee law specifying record-keeping requirements.

  • What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?

A landlord forfeits any right to a security deposit if they do not: deposit the money in a proper bank account or provide a proper listing of damages to the tenant. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(c))

Rent

  • Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)

No. There are no rent control laws in Tennessee.

  • When is rent due?

Rent is due at the start of the month unless otherwise agreed upon. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(c))

  • Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?

No. There is no Tennessee law requiring a certain payment method for rent.

Fees

  • Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?

Yes. Tennessee caps late fees at 10% of the amount of rent past due. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))

  • Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?

Yes. There is a statutory 5 day grace period on rent. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-201(d))

  • Can landlords charge application fees?

Yes. There is no Tennessee law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.

  • Can landlords charge returned check fees?

Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee up to $30. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-29-102)

Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Relations

Notices

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?

No. There is no Tennessee law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms.

  • Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?

No. There is no Tennessee law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.

  • What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?

No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease.

  • What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 10 days’ written notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(a))

  • What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy?

Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 30 days’ written notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(b))

  • Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?

At the request of the tenant, the tenant has a right to attend a move out inspection. It can be held within 4 days of the time the tenant has completely vacated the premises. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-301(b)(1))

Entry Provisions

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice? 
    • To inspect the premises. 
    • To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
    • To supply necessary or agreed services. 
    • To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors.
    • If utilities have been shut off at no fault of the landlord.
    • By court order.
    • If the tenant has abandoned the premises.
    • If the tenant has died, been incapacitated, or arrested.
    • If the tenant has caused damage materially affecting the health and safety of the premises or neighbors.
    • Any absence of the tenant of more than 7 days. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403)
  • What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?

There is no Tennessee law requiring landlords to give tenants notice of entry, except for 24-hour notice for showing the premises to prospective tenants if that term was included in the lease agreement. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(e)(5))

  • When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?

In case of an emergency. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-403(b))

Landlord’s Duties (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-304)

  • Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition.
  • Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
  • Landlords must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for the removal of garbage and arrange for their removal if the premises contains four or more units.

Tenant’s Duties (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-401)

  • Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
  • Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.
  • Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
  • Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit any person to do so.
  • Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.

Required Landlord Disclosures

  • Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Tennessee Renters’ Rights

  • What are Tennessee renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties) 
    • If a landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply essential services, the tenant must give written notice to the landlord detailing any breaches and can do one of the following:
      • Retain the essential services for themselves and deduct the actual cost of the services from the rent.
      • Recover damages based on the diminution in fair rental value.
      • Procure substitute housing for the period of noncompliance, and not pay rent for that period. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-502)
  • Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?

Yes. If a landlord fails to supply any essential services, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may immediately procure reasonable amounts of the essential service(s) and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent. This also applies to any repairs necessary to procure the essential service(s). (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-502(a)(1)(A))

  • What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Tennessee renter’s rights?

Tennessee law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, decreasing services, or bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession if the tenant has complained to a governmental agency, complained to the landlord about a breach of landlord’s duties, or exercises any legal rights. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-514)

Tennessee Eviction Laws

  • What notice do Tennessee eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
    • For evictions based on non-payment of rent or material noncompliance with the rental agreement, landlords must provide tenants with a 14-day notice to pay/quit. The tenant can cure any non-payment during this time, and can also attempt to pay whatever costs to cover necessary repairs to the landlord for a breach of material noncompliance.  (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-505)
  • For evictions based on illegal activity or a material health/safety breach, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 3-day notice to quit. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-517)
  • For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide the notice required to end the tenancy. If the tenant remains on the rental property after the termination date, the landlord can begin the eviction process without providing additional notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512)
  • Do Tennessee eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities? 

No. A landlord is entitled, however, to have utilities in their name shut off after 3 days if the lease specified the tenant was to transfer these utilities to their name. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-521)

  • Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?

Yes.  In Tennessee, if a landlord terminates a lease because the tenant committed a breach of the rental agreement, the landlord may recover damages including the amount of rent agreed to by the parties but unpaid by the tenant, any actual damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-512(c))

COVID-19 Changes to Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Laws

  • The CDC has passed a national eviction ban through December 31, 2020, that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants  who meet the following criteria for nonpayment:
    • Have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent.
    • Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return).
    • Are unable to pay their full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of income or employment, or extraordinary medical bills.
    • If evicted, will have no other housing options.
  • The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requires landlords to provide a 30-day notice to tenants before eviction. However, the CARES Act only applies to properties that are supported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the United States Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit), and properties with federally-backed mortgages, such as FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

Related Links

Government 

Legal Aid

Attorney Referral Services

Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations

SIGN-UP FOR PAYRENT

Start collecting rent online in less than 5 minutes.
  • Control when and how renters pay you
  • Automatically remind tenants when rent is due
  • Accept bank transfers and credit cards
GET STARTED FOR FREE
>

PayRent is on a mission to build a rent collection app that fosters a positive and productive relationship between renters and landlords. We focus less on transactions and more on the people behind them.

Do You Find This Information Useful?

Sign-up for our newsletter and get great content like this delivered to your email.
Subscribe
SUBSCRIBE NOW
close-link

Subscribe to Our
Email Newsletter

Receive timely and relevant articles directly to your email inbox.
SUBSCRIBE
You can unsubscribe anytime.
We respect your privacy
close-link
FREE TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD

Create a Custom 
Rent Collection Policy in Minutes

Get instant access and generate your iron-clad rent collection policy.
DOWNLOAD
close-link

SIGN-UP FOR PAYRENT

Start collecting rent online in less than 5 minutes.
  • Control when and how renters pay you
  • Automatically remind tenants when rent is due
  • Accept bank transfers and credit cards
GET STARTED FOR FREE
>
close-link