Understanding Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Law: An Overview for Landlords – Guest Post

Understanding Tennessee Landlord-Tenant Law

As a landlord in Tennessee, it’s essential to understand the legal requirements that govern your relationship with tenants. From tenant screening to lease termination, the Tennessee landlord-tenant law provides a framework for landlords to operate their rental properties effectively while protecting tenants’ rights. By familiarizing yourself with these laws and regulations, you can avoid legal disputes, ensure a successful tenancy, and maintain positive relationships with your tenants. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of the key aspects of Tennessee landlord-tenant law that landlords should know. Let’s dive in!

Tenant Screening Process in Tennessee

The tenant screening process in Tennessee involves the following steps:

  • Requiring a rental application: A rental application is a standard form that requires tenants to provide information about themselves, their employment, their rental history, and their financial situation.
  • Conducting a background check: A background check can help landlords verify the information provided by tenants in their rental applications, such as their employment and rental history. It can also reveal any criminal records or evictions that the tenant may have.
  • Checking credit score and report: A credit check is another important part of the tenant screening process. It allows landlords to assess the tenant’s creditworthiness and ability to pay rent on time.

Criteria that landlords can use to select tenants

  • Landlords in Tennessee can use various criteria to select tenants, but they must comply with fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination based on certain protected classes, such as race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Here are some of the criteria that landlords can consider when selecting tenants:
  • Income and employment history: Landlords can require tenants to have a minimum income level and stable employment history to ensure that they can afford to pay rent and other expenses.
  • Rental history: Landlords can check the tenant’s rental history to verify that they have a good track record of paying rent on time and taking care of rental properties.
  • Credit score and report: Landlords can use a tenant’s credit score and report to assess their financial responsibility and ability to pay rent on time.
  • Criminal history: Landlords can consider a tenant’s criminal history to ensure that they do not pose a threat to the safety of other tenants or the property.

Legal Requirements For Providing Notice

Notice of Rent Increases: In Tennessee, landlords must give tenants at least 30 days’ written notice before increasing the rent. The notice must state the amount of the rent increase, the effective date of the increase, and any other relevant information, such as new payment methods or a new address for rent payment. Landlords can provide the notice in person, by mail, or by posting it on the tenant’s door.

Notice of Lease Terminations: In Tennessee, the notice period for terminating a lease depends on the type of tenancy and the reason for termination. For example:

  • For a month-to-month tenancy, either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease by giving 30 days written notice.
  • For a fixed-term lease, the lease terminates automatically at the end of the term unless the landlord or the tenant gives proper notice. The notice period must be at least equal to the interval between rent payments, but not less than 30 days or more than 60 days.

If the landlord terminates the lease for non-payment of rent, the notice period is only 14 days. If the tenant terminates the lease due to a breach of the landlord’s obligations, the tenant must give the landlord written notice of the breach and allow a reasonable time for the landlord to remedy the situation before terminating the lease.

Notice of Lease Renewals: In Tennessee, landlords are not required to give notice of lease renewals unless the lease agreement explicitly states otherwise. However, it is a best practice for landlords to remind tenants of upcoming lease expirations and offer renewal options at least 30 days before the lease expires. This can help landlords retain good tenants and avoid vacancies.

Maintenance and repair obligations

Here’s an overview of the landlord’s duty to maintain rental properties in Tennessee:

  1. Habitable Condition: Landlords in Tennessee must provide rental properties that are fit for human habitation, which means they must be safe, clean, and free from health hazards. Specifically, the rental property must have:
  • Safe and functioning plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems
  • Adequate lighting and ventilation
  • Properly functioning doors, windows, and locks
  • No leaks, mold, or pest infestations
  • No lead paint hazards, asbestos, or other toxic substances

If a rental property is not habitable, the landlord must make necessary repairs and improvements to bring it up to code.

  1. Building Codes: In Tennessee, landlords must comply with all applicable building codes and safety regulations, including fire safety codes, electrical codes, and plumbing codes. These codes are designed to protect the health and safety of tenants and prevent accidents, fires, and other hazards. Landlords must ensure that their rental properties meet these codes, and they must obtain any required permits or inspections.
  1. Safety Regulations: In addition to building codes, landlords in Tennessee must comply with safety regulations that apply to rental properties, such as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors requirements. Landlords must install and maintain working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in all rental units, and they must provide tenants with instructions for testing and maintaining the detectors.

Evictions and dispute resolution

Evictions and dispute resolution in Tennessee are subject to state laws that govern the process and protect tenants’ rights. Landlords must follow specific procedures to evict tenants, including providing proper notice and obtaining a court order. Tenants also have legal remedies to challenge eviction notices or contest unlawful evictions. Dispute resolution options, such as mediation or arbitration, are available to resolve landlord-tenant disputes before they escalate to court. However, if a dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, landlords or tenants may file a lawsuit in court to seek a resolution. It is essential for both parties to understand their legal rights and obligations to ensure a fair and legal outcome.


Understanding Tennessee landlord-tenant law is crucial for landlords to operate their rental properties successfully while complying with legal requirements and protecting tenants’ rights. From tenant screening to lease termination, knowing the legal framework can help landlords avoid disputes, maintain positive relationships with tenants, and ensure a smooth and successful tenancy. We hope this overview has provided helpful insights into Tennessee landlord-tenant law, and we encourage landlords to seek professional legal advice and stay updated on any changes or updates to these laws and regulations. With the right knowledge and preparation, landlords can create a positive and thriving rental property business in Tennessee.