UPDATED: February 13, 2020
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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.
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 notice you give your tenant before filing an eviction suit in case the tenant claims he or she never received it.
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 14 days 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.
Evictions in Tennessee are 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. While evicting your tenant just by filing some paperwork at your local court may seem like the smoothest solution, sometimes events do not unfold as you had planned. 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, and in doing so, refer to the Questions to Ask Your Tennessee Evictions Lawyerbelow.
Self-Help Evictions in Tennessee
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.
Questions to Ask Your Tennessee Evictions Lawyer
- 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?
- Forlandlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?