When you manage a rental property, it’s inevitable that you will have to handle the unfortunate process of evicting a tenant. Nearly one million evictions take place each year in the U.S. No one looks forward to the idea of removing a tenant from their home. It’s rarely an easy process and may even involve filing a lawsuit and taking the tenant to court. How an eviction works depends on the details contained in the lease agreement you and your tenant have signed. So every eviction process is a little different. Still, there are certain Tennessee eviction laws you need to understand in order to make sure you are performing a legal tenant eviction.
Failing to follow the laws around eviction can leave room for your tenant to fight the eviction. When you are certain you have legal justification for eviction, the whole process goes more smoothly giving you peace of mind.
Here is everything you need to know about Tennessee eviction rules and legal tenant eviction.
Tennessee Eviction Laws
In Tennessee, the law states that a landlord can evict tenants for several different reasons. For the most part, it will come down to the terms contained in the lease agreement.
Reasons to evict a tenant vary from failing to pay rent to not renewing the terms of the lease. The landlord must also give the tenant an official “notice to quit” and comply with the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
The notice to quit must state how long the tenant may remain on the premises before the eviction case goes to court. If the tenant doesn’t vacate the property by the date, the landlord can proceed with an eviction lawsuit.
The notice must also identify a specific term contained in the lease that the tenant violated. A landlord cannot ask for an eviction hearing without indicating the cause for eviction.
In addition, under no circumstances can a landlord conduct a self-help eviction. This is an illegal form of eviction and is considered an act of disorderly conduct.
How Does the Eviction Process Work?
In Tennessee, there are two types of evictions: evictions with cause and evictions without cause. The eviction process differs for each of them.
Eviction With Cause
In the event a landlord needs to evict a tenant before the end of the tenant’s lease agreement, the landlord must have a valid legal reason for doing so. In other words, a landlord must have cause to evict a tenant early.
The most common reasons landlords evict tenants are for non-payment of rent or for violating the terms of the rental agreement. A landlord can also evict a tenant for violence or drug use occurring at the rental property.
Once the cause is established, the first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to formally terminate the tenancy. Terminating the tenancy involves giving the tenant a notice of eviction.
The landlord can give a 14-day notice to cure, a three-day notice to quit, or a 30-day notice to cure, depending on the reason for the eviction.
If the tenant has failed to pay rent, damaged the rental unit, or committed a violent act, the landlord can give either a 14-day or 30-day notice to cure.
Committing a violent act refers to any violent act committed at the rental property. It can also refer to any threat made to the landlord, tenants, or others at the rental property.
A notice to cure means the tenant has 14 days to remedy or correct the behavior. If the tenant fails to correct the behavior, the landlord can terminate their tenancy by filing an eviction lawsuit.
In the event a tenant commits an illegal drug-related offense on the rental property, the landlord can give them a three-day notice to quit. The notice should state that the tenancy will expire after three days.
The notice should also state that when the tenancy expires, the landlord intends to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant for the drug-related activity that occurred.
Eviction Without Cause
Unless a landlord has legal cause to evict a tenant, they may not remove the tenant from their rental unit until the end of their lease agreement. You cannot expect a tenant to move when they haven’t done anything wrong.
Even when a lease expires, a landlord is expected to offer a lease renewal. Therefore the landlord may still need to provide the tenant a written notice of the end of the tenancy.
In the case of a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant 30-days’ notice. The landlord must also specify the exact date that the tenancy will end.
Then, if the tenant fails to vacate the rental unit by that date, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
When a landlord would like to terminate a fixed-term tenancy (like a year-long lease), the landlord must also wait until the end of the lease to ask the tenant to vacate.
In this case, the landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice. The landlord can assume the tenant will move if the lease doesn’t get renewed.
Can Tenants Dispute Eviction?
Yes, a tenant can dispute an eviction even when the landlord has legal cause to evict them. This is because the tenant may have a valid complaint or defense against the actions of the landlord.
If a tenant can prove that a landlord is retaliating or discriminating against them, the judge may not uphold the eviction.
If a tenant tries to fight an eviction, it can lengthen the court process and end up costing the landlord more money in legal fees. The best way to simplify the eviction process is to have a good relationship with your tenants.
What You Need to Know About Tennessee Eviction Rules
Tennessee eviction laws state that a landlord must have cause to evict a tenant before the end of their lease agreement. If a landlord does not have a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, they must wait until the end of the lease.
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