The landlord-tenant relationship and resolving disputes

While it might be ideal to own one’s residence, individuals of all ages and circumstances commonly decide that renting is the best and possibly their only option. Thus, many Tennessee residents are currently in a residential rental agreement. While these are common and straightforward agreements between a tenant and a landlord, issues and disputes still occur. Thus, it is important to understand what disputes could arise and how best to resolve them.

Landlord-tenant relationship

A landlord-tenant relationship exists in the state of Tennessee whenever a valid rental agreement is entered into or when a landlord receives payment for rent. Once this relationship is established, both parties are afforded certain rights while also having specific duties and responsibilities to the other party.

While the state of Tennessee does not have the requirement for a warranty of habitability in its laws, it does set minimum standards for landlords when it comes to habitability. Not only is a landlord required to make timely repairs, which in within 14 days of a request, they are responsible for dwelling structures, hot and cold water, kitchen fixtures, plumbing, ventilation, electrical wiring, heating, vermin and garbage removal.

While tenants have the responsibility to pay rent in a timely manner, tenants in Tennessee have other responsibilities they must adhere to. This includes maintaining a living space that is free from damages and dangers, complying with all housing and safety codes, maintaining a level of cleanliness as specified by the landlord, not engaging in illegal activities, not deliberately destroying or damaging any part of the premises and not disturbing other tenants in the same dwelling or neighbors.

Disputes and resolutions

When a dispute or issue arises, there are certain ways to resolve them. For example, if a landlord fails to timely address a requested repair, the tenant then has the right to make the repairs and deduct the cost of repairs from future rent. A dispute could arise due to a tenant staying longer than a lease or remaining in the dwelling after an eviction. These could be resolved through a notice. Other disputes that could arise may involve timely returned security deposits, deductions for damages, discrimination and retaliation. While this may not be resolved directly through the tenant and landlord, they may give rise to a legal action in order to obtain a resolution.

It could feel like a helpless situation for many tenants when a dispute with his or her landlord occurs; however, many rights are afforded to tenants in these matters. Therefore, it is important that one considered their options in the situation, considering the best steps to take to resolve the dispute while also protecting his or her rights along the way.