Landlord Tenant Law

The lawyers at Griffin & Davis, PLLC represent both landlords and tenants who end up in a dispute with one another.  Whether you are a landlord who has a tenant who has breached the terms of the rental agreement or lease or you are a tenant who is facing an eviction from a property, we can help you with your issues and come up with a fair and reasonable solution to the problems that are arising as a result of these issues.  As a landlord or a tenant in Tennessee, you have certain rights upheld by the state that protect you, your property, and your daily way of life. Understanding the law and the rights that landlords and tenants have in Tennessee can help you avoid being taken advantage of or avoid legal ramifications.

Tennessee has a set of laws that includes the duties owed by both the landlords and the tenants.  In Tennessee, the duties of both the landlord and the tenant vary depending on the county. The reason for that is the Uniform  Residential Landlord Tenant Acts (URLTA). The URLTA applies to all counties that have a population of 68,000 residents or more

Landlord Disclosure

A landlord or property owner has a special interest in making sure that the property that they own is maintained properly and that the tenants who occupy that property comply with the rules of lease and URTLA. If you are a landlord in the state of Tennessee there are certain laws you must abide. For example, Tennessee has certain items that you must disclose to tenants before they accept a rental agreement and move into your property. Rental properties in Middle Tennessee are hard to come by because of the high demand.  When a tenant fails to pay their rent or damages the rental property that results in lost income and revenue.

Security Deposit

  • In the state of Tennessee, there is no max limit for a security deposit. Of course, as a renter, you may choose not to rent the property if you feel the security deposit is too outrageous or you can negotiate with the landlord to see if it can be lowered.
  • If you are a landlord you must return a security deposit within 60 days of tenants moving out, if there are no complications over the lease
  • Tennessee has no official laws surrounding pet deposits or pet fees and leaves it up for the landlord to decide
  • When renters move out, landlords are required to give tenants a Move out Checklist/List of Damages
  • Tenants also have a right to request a joint inspection before they move out. This can help them if landlord’s try to unfairly blame future damages on them

Rent and Fees

  • Tenants must pay the agreed-upon rent on the first day of the month unless the tenant and landlord have agreed to another arrangement and have marked so on their lease agreement
  • Tennessee has no state laws about landlords increasing rent prices on their properties. Landlords have the right to increase rent on their properties without giving notice ahead of time
  • Late fees cannot be more than 10 percent the total amount of past rent due
  • If a check is bounced or is not applicable for some reason, landlords have the right to charge tenants a $30 returned check fee. This is to help ensure tenants are not creating false checks or making checks knowing they cannot pay the balance, in order to buy more time and delay paying rent
  • If the landlord fails to provide a habitable living space (such as no heating or water) for their tenants, tenants can choose to withhold rent. In order to do so officially, renters must file an official complaint with local officials. Tenants can also pay rent to the county until the landlord remedies the issue

Potential Health Issues/Damage

  • Tenants must be informed of any lead paint hazards on the property and must be given a pamphlet on the dangers associated with lead paint contamination
  • Landlords must apply with Tennessee housing and building laws on health/safety

Other Disclosures

  • Landlords must provide tenants with a written lease agreement signed by both/all parties. They must disclose their own duties and the tenant’s duties in the lease
  • In Tennessee, landlord’s can create or modify any rules they see fit at any time and under any circumstances


Landlord Duties

Ensuring that your property is protected is of the utmost importance to property owners in Tennessee, Rental properties in Middle Tennessee are in high demand right now and when a tenant fails to pay their rent or damages your property, it results in lost revenue.  The attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC represent landlords who have tenants that have stopped paying rent or have caused damages to a landowners property.

As a landlord, you have responsibilities over your properties and your tenant’s health/safety under Tennessee law. If you neglect these duties, your tenants may be able to withhold rent until you comply with the law or they may be able to immediately move out without repercussions

  • Landlords cannot raise rent prices as a retaliatory tactic for tenant’s exercising their legal rights (such as going to court about lack of water/electricity)
  • Landlords must take of certain health and safety issues in their properties, such as maintaining proper heating, electrical, and water on the property to keep the place habitable
  • Most provide proper trash receptacles for the property under Tennessee law

We can help you if you are a property owner with tenant issues.  The attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PPLC, can help you to construct a lease agreement that is specific to your property, work through disputes with negotiations,  to purdue an eviction and recover damages and/or lost rent. Our firm will work to handle your case as quickly and efficiently as possible. Call to speak with a landlord tenant attorney today.


Tenant Duties

The lawyers at Griffin & Davis, PLLC also provides assistance to tenants who find themselves involved in a dispute with the landlord of the property that they have been leasing.  Whether you are facing eviction or a landlord refuses to make repairs to the property to make it habitable, we can help you work through those issues or any other issues that may result.  Under the URLTA, a property owner has several duties that they must adhere to which includes how they handle to the security deposit, necessary disclosures are made, and that they make repairs when a property owner terminates a lease.   

As a tenant you have certain duties you must adhere to according to Tennessee law. Failure to adhere to these laws may result in legal action against you, fines, or eviction from the property.

  • If a tenant leaves before the lease expires and does not get someone to take over the lease they may
  • If a tenant does not pay rent they may be evicted from the property
  • A tenant cannot legally keep another roommate with the landlord’s knowledge
  • Tenants must keep the property clean and safe and that all trash is regularly removed and place in trash receptacles
  • A tenant cannot engage in unlawful/illegal activity or damage property/premises
  • Tenants must be orderly and not disturb other neighbors with their activities. They must maintain a certain noise level as well.

If you are a tenant in a dispute with your landlord, the attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC, can  help you negotiate a resolution to your dispute. If we are not able to negotiate a reasonable resolution, we can prepare your case for the hearing.  

Contact a Tennessee Landlord Tenant Dispute Attorney

Regardless of whether you are a tenant or a landlord, Griffin & Davis, PLLC can help you maneuver the complicated and complex  legal system that governs residential leases. Call us today at (931) 837-2050 or (865) 354-3333 to speak with a skilled attorney about your situation. We will work to resolve your dispute as efficiently and quickly as possible.



I moved out of the house I was rented months ago but still, have not received my security deposit back. What can I do to make sure my former landlord finally pays it back?

As a tenant in Tennessee, you can go to Small Courts and sue your former landlord up to $25000 for the return of your deposit. In Tennessee, your landlord is required to return your deposit 60 days after you have moved out of the premises. However, landlords can use the deposit to cover unpaid rent, repairing the damage you caused to the property (outside wear and tear), and cleaning the premises if they are messy after you moved out.

A landlord cannot use the deposit for simple wear and tear. If you feel you are rightfully entitled to your deposit and have not received it from your former landlord you can contact the attorneys at Griffin & Davis, PLLC, to get legal advice on how to obtain the money you deserve.

What are the Fair-Housing Right Laws in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, it is illegal for landlords to discriminate in the renting, buying, or selling of a property based on an individual’s sex, disability, religion, race, family status, or national origin. It is not illegal to discriminate potential renters/buyers/sellers based on sexual orientation. The Tennessee Human Rights Commission is in charge of enforcing Fair-Housing Rights in Tennessee and should be contacted if you feel as though you are being unfairly discriminated against.

Some actions that would be discriminatory according to the Fair-Housing Right would include:

  • denying a Muslim individual housing based on their religion
  • Creating an advertisement for the rental space that only allows women to apply to be tenants
  • Terminating a tenancy based solely on a renter’s race or skin color
  • Creating a sexually hostile environment for renters

If you believe you are being unfairly discriminated against by your landlord for your sex, religion, disability, family status, or national origin contact our agents at the offices at Griffin & Davis, PLLC to find out if you have the right to pursue a claim.

Is it illegal for my landlord to enter the property I’m renting without my knowledge?

In Tennessee, a landlord can enter your property to deal with an emergency, to inspect the premises, if the renter has an extended absence, or to make repairs or improvements to the property. In non-emergency situations, the landlord must give 24-hour notice that they intend to enter the property before going in. If your landlord is infringing upon your rights as a tenant and entering your rented premises without due notice you can contact the offices at Griffin & Davis, PLLC for more legal advice or assistance.

How is renting somewhere different from owning a house?

As a renter, you may not have the ability to make certain changes to the home without explicit permission from your landlord. You also may not be able to make repairs unless your landlord permits it.

As a landlord can I screen potential tenants?

Yes. You as a landlord have the right to screen potential renters before accepting their rental application and entering into a lease agreement with them. As a landlord, you should send applications to potential renters that require them to disclose their employment, proof of income, credit history, references, Social Security number, and any past evictions/bankruptcies. With this information, you can run a credit report on the potential applicant.

You can pull a credit report on a potential tenant and can turn down their application based on the findings. If you decide to turn down a tenant based on what you uncover in their credit report you must send them an adverse letter. The adverse letter must contain the rejection, the reason why you rejected the application (the credit report), the name of the agency you obtained the credit information from, and that the applicant has the right to also obtain a free copy of the report from the agency within 60 days. For more information about what rights you have to screen potential renters, you can contact Griffin & Davis, PLLC to have all of your questions answered.

Can I refuse to rent property to illegal immigrants?

Yes. If you have a reasonable belief that someone is not in the U.S. legally you can refuse the right to rent to them. You can ask potential renters for proof of identity and proof of their eligibility to work in the U.S., however, you must ask all prospective tenants, not just the ones you believe are illegal immigrants. It is also still illegal to discriminate against potential renters based only on their race and their national origin if they reside in the country legally.


Contact the Law Offices of Griffin & Davis, PLLC for any landlord-tenant matters in the state of Tennessee.