CategoriesRental Property

Can a Landlord Charge for Eviction Fees in Tennessee?

can a landlord charge for eviction fees

As of March 2024, landlords in Tennessee filed 13,970 evictions during the previous year. As a landlord, you can take steps to prevent evictions from occurring, including performing thorough tenant screenings.

Regardless of how well you screen your tenants, however, you might still have to evict someone. Evictions can be emotionally draining and financially burdensome, often resulting in significant costs and time consumption. 

You’ll lose rental income during this time and have to pay the eviction fees. This might make you wonder, “Can a landlord charge for eviction fees?”.

Continue reading to learn more about landlord-tenant laws in Tennessee and understand your rights regarding eviction fees.

Understand the Eviction Process in Tennessee

Landlords in Tennessee can evict a tenant for specific reasons. These include:

  • Failing to pay rent
  • Criminal activity on the premises 
  • Violating the rental lease terms

Before filing for an eviction, you must send the tenant a written notice about your intentions. This letter is called a 14-Day Notice. As implied, you must send it within 14 days before filing the eviction.

This letter gives the tenant 14 days to remedy the problem. If remedied in time, you will not have the legal right to file the eviction. There are also times when a landlord can file a 3-day or 30-day notice

If the tenant doesn’t comply, you can file an eviction by visiting your local court. You must pay the court filing fees to file the motion. The court will notify the tenant about the eviction case. 

If you fail to give the appropriate notification, the tenant can dispute your request. In other words, you can’t proceed with an eviction until you complete this step. 

Learn About a Landlord’s Right to Charge Eviction Fees

Court filing fees are one of the eviction fees you’ll accrue when using this process, but there are others. For example, you might decide to hire someone else to handle your evictions.

You can hire a property management firm or a lawyer for help. If hiring someone else, you’ll encounter fees for their services. 

In addition, evictions cost money in other ways. You’ll lose rental income if someone is living in a rental and not paying their rent. You might also lose money from damages the tenant caused. 

There are times when you can charge for other things, such as changing the locks. You might have the legal right to charge for this if your tenant doesn’t give back the keys or won’t move out willingly. 

Fortunately, you can charge the tenant for all the money they owe, and the court will decide if they must pay it. You can ask the tenant to cover your eviction fees, including the legal fees paid. 

You can also ask the tenant to pay past-due rent and costs for repairing the unit. Unfortunately, the tenant might not pay the fees associated with the eviction even if the court agrees to your request.

When a tenant is getting evicted, they might try to work out a deal with you outside of court. They may agree to move out willingly and pay the fees they owe.

Some tenants do this to protect their credit. If you evict someone and the court approves a judgment for money owed, the judgment will appear on their credit report.

Others do this to protect their rental record. An eviction on their record might dissuade other landlords from renting to them. 

Know the Limitations on Eviction Fees

There are times when landlords can’t charge a tenant for eviction fees. The primary example of this is when the lease states this fact. You should always have a lease that gives you the most rights possible.

For example, your lease shouldn’t restrict you from charging a tenant eviction fees. If it does, you won’t have the right to ask the tenant to pay these.

It might also depend on the reason for evicting a tenant. Suppose you want to sell the property and decide not to renew the tenant’s lease. In this case, you might need to evict the person if they won’t willingly move out.

However, you might not have the right to charge the tenant the eviction fees, as the eviction is not due to the tenant’s fault or actions. 

Consult with a real estate lawyer if you have questions about your lease and rights. They can help you determine the best route for your situation. 

Discover the Tenant’s Responsibilities for Eviction Fees

Tennessee rental laws give tenants rights and responsibilities. Tenants have rights relating to the following:

  • Property conditions
  • Evictions
  • Fees and costs
  • Possession of their rental property
  • Landlords entering their unit

If you want to charge eviction fees to a tenant, they will probably review their lease to see what it says. If any wording appears to prevent you from charging the fees, they might dispute them.

Tenants have a right to dispute the eviction and the fees in all situations. They may not need to hire a lawyer to do this, but they can if they choose. 

A tenant also has the responsibility to move out of their unit after an eviction. The court might give them a certain amount of time to comply, and they must do so to avoid further consequences.

Can a Landlord Charge for Eviction Fees? Learn More

So, can a landlord charge for eviction fees? The answer is yes in some cases. However, there is always a chance the tenant won’t pay the fees. 

Landlords must follow the law, which means you should familiarize yourself with landlord-tenant laws in Tennessee. You can also hire a lawyer to help guide you through such legal processes.

A better option is to hire a property management firm for help. Property managers know and follow the law, helping you stay in compliance.

Reedy & Company Realtors, LLC is a full-service real estate firm. We’ve managed more than 3,500 rental properties and have served the Memphis area since 2002.

We can help with evictions and other rental property services. Get in touch with us today to learn more!