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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Evictions are one of the most common types of cases that go to court. As long as local laws are followed, landlords have the right to evict their tenants for various breaches of the lease. It is not legal for landlords in Tennessee to remove their tenants themselves. Landlords must go through the court process if they want to evict someone.
What Are Available Tennessee Termination Notices?
Tennessee landlords may evict their tenants for a number of reasons. The most common are failure to pay rent and breach of the lease. It is important to retain copies of any eviction notice you give your tenant before filing an eviction suit in case the tenant claims he or she never received it. Many also take pictures, require signatures, and get other proof of delivery.
If a landlord wishes to end a tenancy earlier than the lease specifies, he or she may do so by giving 30 days notice when there has been a breach of the lease (failure to pay rent or other breach) before filing an eviction suit. It is best to send this notice by certified mail so you are certain (and have proof) that the tenant received it.
If the breach is “remediable,” meaning the tenant can fix it, then the tenant has a 14-day notice to remedy the breach. If the tenant does so, the landlord cannot file suit. If the tenant does not remedy the breach within 14 days, the tenancy will end at the end of the 30 day notice period and the landlord can have the tenant removed. Of course, if the proper notices are not filed, eviction lawsuits may be stalled for longer. These terms can change based on what’s written in the rental agreement within certain limits.
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How Can You Get Legal Help with a Rental Situation?
Eviction of tenants in Tennessee is generally handled by the General Sessions courts. To find more information on the Tennessee courts, click here. You may have to do a basic internet search for your county as the Tennessee courts site does not link to all of them. You will probably have to go in to the court office to get the forms necessary to file an eviction suit on a rental unit. Filing some paperwork at your local court may seem like the smoothest solution to evict a tenant, but things don’t always go as planned. There are procedures for eviction with caveats for things like your tenant refusing to move out. If you’re a tenant, there are considerations if your landlord is not following the law. If you are unsure of the termination and/or eviction process at any point, you may wish to hire or consult a Tennessee landlord tenant attorney to make sure your interests are protected.
Can Professional Property Managers Use Self-Help Evictions in Tennessee?
Hiring an experienced property manager is one of the best things many property owners can do. It takes the daily hassle out of your hands. If eviction is needed, your property manager can take care of all the details. Keep in mind regardless of who the acting party is, self-help evictions are illegal in Tennessee. Landlords may not turn off utilities or lock out tenants for breach of the lease (unless the tenant has abandoned the premises). If a landlord breaks the law and tries to force out the tenant using these tactics, the tenant may sue under Tenn. Code Ann. 66-28-502 for:
- Actual damages;
- Attorney’s fees.
Even with a property manager, landlords are still responsible for following these housing codes. The owner would remain liable for any violations.
What are some questions to ask your Tennessee evictions lawyer?
Many property owners have no experience with things like evictions and other complications of renting out a property. A lease agreement can protect you against problems, but many default to a standard contract you can find online without understanding its limits.
If you find yourself in need of an evictions lawyer, always do your research. Check with your state bar and look at their record. Many times, an eviction can be wrapped up without ever going to an eviction hearing. Your lawyer should be prepared for any situation.
When comparing lawyers, you can ask a few basic questions.
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?
If you need help with eviction laws, don’t wait and hope it will get better on its own. Whether it’s payment of rent or another problem, proper notice is essential, and it takes time. If laws aren’t followed, a tenant can sue a landlord for damages. Eviction isn’t the only potential problem area.
Once an eviction judgment is passed down, the process is almost complete. A qualified attorney can help property owners from beginning to end. This means correcting problems the landlord may be responsible for, following the laws to avoid illegal eviction, dealing with personal property left behind, service of process, and much more.