There are laws that govern the relationship between a landlord and his or her tenants. They apply to you, whether you own a single property rented out to friends, or a hundred units spread across Chattanooga. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these laws and make sure you are meeting your legal obligations toward your tenants. There are some of the laws every Tennessee landlord should know:
Before we dive into state-specific laws, every landlord should know that it is a federal crime, established under the Fair Housing Act, to refuse to rent your property based on any of the following: race or color, national origin, religion, disability or handicap, gender, and family status.
There are no laws in Tennessee limiting the amount of rent you can charge. There are, however, plenty of laws that apply to rent.
- Late fees. Rent is due on the date stipulated in the lease and is not legally considered late until five business days past the due date. Late fees are allowed, up to 10% of the rent owed, once the rent is considered late. Fees must be clearly defined in the lease agreement.
- Withholding rent. Tenants may withhold rent if the property is unsafe or in need of significant repairs, like access to heat or water.
- Eviction for non-payment. A landlord must give a tenant notice prior to eviction for non-payment, unless your lease agreement specifically waives this notice. The notice requirements vary by county. Talk to your attorney to ensure your lease agreement (and any waiver of rights) and eviction procedures are in compliance with county and state regulations.
Security Deposit Laws
Like with rent, there are no regulations when it comes to the amount you can charge for the security deposit. However, there are laws that dictate how a security deposit should be charged, stored, and returned when the tenant vacates the premises.
- Setting the deposit amount. You must state the security deposit amount in the lease.
- Storing the deposit. You must store security deposits in a bank account separate from any assets of the landlord. Also, provide details about the account (not the account number) in writing to the tenant.
- Returning the deposit. As a landlord, you may make deductions from the security deposit for non-payment of rent and damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear. Landlords are required to invite the tenant to the final inspection of the property and provide documentation of items for which deductions will be made. Notice must be made within 30 days, or the landlord forfeits the right to make deductions and must return the security deposit to the tenant in full.
Tennessee state law requires landlords to disclose certain things about their property to the tenant, such as:
- the identity of any individual who will inspect the property, on what schedule inspections will be done, and the amount of notice given.
- if the landlord will show the property to prospective tenants during the final month of the lease.
- how to make maintenance requests.
- a description of the property.
- a pet policy.
In addition, federal law requires certain disclosures, like lead-based paint for properties built before 1978. Familiarize yourself with additional disclosure requirements.
Contact a Chattanooga Property Manager for More Information on Laws Every Tennessee Landlord Should Know
Sound a bit overwhelming? Understanding and following all of your legal obligations as a landlord can be. You can avoid the hassle by hiring an expert property management firm with local experience, like Greyhaven Realty Management. We keep up with Tennessee landlord-tenant laws and can keep you up to date.