What are a landlord’s responsibilities?

The terms of the landlord tenant relationship are not restricted to the contents of a lease. State law also imposes duties upon landlords of rental homes and rights to their renters.

Landlord duties

Tennessee law sets forth landlord duties in residential real estate. Under the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords must:

  • Follow building and housing codes impacting health and safety.
  • Make repairs and take necessary steps to assure that the premises is and stays in a fit and habitable condition.
  • Keep common areas clean and safe.
  • Provide and upkeep suitable receptacles and conveniences for removing ashes, garbage, and other waste from common points of collection in multi-unit complexes with at least four units.

The Landlord Tenant Act is in force only in counties with a population over 75,000. These counties, include Williamson, Davidson, Sumner, and Maury Counties based upon the 2020 census.

If a renter’s complaint is filed, the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division will try to contact the landlord ask for their agreement to participate in mediation. Legal action may begin if the landlord does not agree to engage in mediation.

Renters’ rights

Renters also have rights under state law. These include:

  • To rent a livable place and live peacefully.
  • Having landlords make an emergency repair to keep the premises healthy. These usually involve heat, gas, light, water, sewage, plumbing or air conditioning. Tenants may have to pay for some of the repairs if they were at any fault for the malfunction.
  • Landlords may not evict tenants without notice.
  • Landlords cannot change locks or shut off utilities to make tenants leave.

Normally, landlords must go to court before they can evict tenants, although landlords only have to give three days’ notice of an eviction if the tenant engaged in a dangerous or threatening act. Tenants are entitled to 30 days’ notice of eviction for nonpayment of rent or if they violated the terms of the lease.

Attorneys can help assist landlords with preventing disputes. They can also represent their interests when there are grounds for eviction or a lease violation.