AN EVICTION IN Tennessee
If the tenant is gone for 30 days without paying
rent and without notifying you, you may consider the
property abandoned. In addition, if you have a
written lease, it could require the tenant to tell
you if the tenant is going to be gone more than seven
When the tenant abandons the dwelling and leaves
personal property behind, you have certain rights to
dispose of the property. However, you also have
certain duties; so it would be a good idea to
consult a lawyer before destroying or selling the
You may not take a tenant's personal
property just because the tenant owes you money,
unless the tenant signs a document under the Uniform
Commercial Code and you record that documents, or
unless the tenant gave you the property to hold as
You cannot discontinue "essential
services" to your tenant. First, what is an
"essential service"? "Essential
services" means utility service (such as heat
and electricity) and anything else that you promised
to provide--if it materially affects the
tenant's health and safety.
You may not evict a tenant or interrupt essential
services just because you are having a dispute with
the tenant. You must get a court order before you
can forcibly evict a tenant.
If you evict a tenant or cut off services without
a court order, the tenant may sue you for
damages--and you might have to pay the tenant's
If the tenant violates the lease, you may send
the tenant notice of the problem and give the tenant
30 days to correct the problem. If the tenant does
not correct the problem, you may sue for possession
at the time set in the notice. However, if you know
about the problem and accept rent from the tenant
without complaining, you cannot later evict the
tenant for violating the lease for that reason--at
least until you tell the tenant that the tenant must
start following the rules again. You should give the
tenant this notice in writing.
If the tenant corrects the problem, but it
happens again within six months, you may cancel the
lease after 14 days' notice.
Unless you have a written lease that says
otherwise, you cannot evict a tenant for non-payment
of rent unless you give the tenant written notice
that the tenant failed to pay the rent.
If the tenant cancels the lease before it is
over, the tenant will owe the balance due under the
lease. However, you must try to rent the property to
someone else to offset your damages.
If you are renting on a month-to-month basis, you
may cancel the lease by giving the tenant 30 days'
notice. The 30 days begins to run after the rent is
due for the next month after the tenant receives the
notice. For instance, suppose that rent is due on
the first of the month, and you give the tenant
notice to leave on March 10. The next rent payment
is due on April 1, so the 30 days' notice begins to
run on April 1; and the tenant does not have to
leave until May 1.
If you are renting on a week-to-week basis, you
may cancel the lease by giving the tenant ten days'
If the tenant does not leave at the time
required, you may sue for possession of the property
and for damages and your attorney fees.
You only have to give a tenant three days' notice
to leave if the tenant (or the tenant's guests)
commit an act that is violent or dangerous to
others; but even in this situation, you may not
evict the tenant by force without a court order and
may not cut off essential services to force the
tenant to leave.
You may sue to evict a tenant in General Sessions
Court. If you do not have a lawyer, the court clerk
can give you information about the procedure. If you
lose, you have ten days to appeal; likewise, if the
tenant loses, the tenant has ten days to appeal the
eviction after the judge issues the order.