What notice do you have to give a tenant before you evict them?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

Perhaps you are a landlord or a property manager as your day job.  Maybe you have moved to a bigger home and decided to keep your prior residence and rent it out.  Possibly you have inherited a home that you would like to try to rent out and try to make some passive income.

Regardless of the situation, if you are renting out a home, there is the chance that the relationship with the tenant may sour.  I get a number of phone calls from landlords asking me what notice they have to give to a tenant before they evict them.  Similarly, I occasionally receive phone calls from tenants telling me that they have not been given the proper notices by their landlord prior to their landlord trying to evict them.

There is an entire chapter in the Tennessee Code that discusses landlord-tenant matters.  That chapter is called the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act or URLTA.  By its own terms, the URLTA is only supposed to apply to counties having populations greater than 75,000 as of the 2010 federal census, however, you will see many counties in Tennessee applying the laws contained in the URLTA regardless of their population.

But back to our original question, how much notice do you have to give a tenant before you evict them?  Well, there are a bunch of different answers depending on the specific situation.  Let’s walk through all of them.

The first type of notices we will discuss are where nothing specifically bad has to have had happen.  The landlord or tenant has just decided to conclude the relationship.

The vast majority of written leases are for a period of one year.  If you have one of those, usually you have to give 30 days notice prior to the conclusion of the lease that you will be terminating the agreement.  If it is a commercial lease, then that notice may be longer.

If the written lease has expired, or there was no written lease, then the tenant is considered to be on a month to month lease.  In those instances, the landlord or tenant may terminate the lease by giving a 30 day notice of termination of the lease pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 66-28-512.

If the lease is a week to week lease, then the landlord or tenant must give a 10 day notice of termination of the lease.

Now, let’s move on to what people really care about, and that is giving notice of the termination of a lease when something goes wrong.  Those instances are generally covered by Tennessee Code Annotated section 66-28-505.  If the breach by the tenant is something that they can repair, rent they can pay, remove an illegal pet from the property, or remedy some other violation of the lease, then the landlord must send the tenant a notice that if the condition is not remedied within 14 days that the landlord will evict them after the 14 days have elapsed.  If the tenant actually fixes the problem, the landlord cannot evict them.

If the landlord sends out the 14 day notice, the tenant fixes the problem, but then the same problem arises again within 6 months, the landlord can send out a notice saying that if the problem is not fixed within 7 days, then the tenant will be evicted.

This statute also states, and this is important, that if the tenant signs a written lease stating that if the breach of the lease by the tenant is for non-payment of rent, that they waive the notice provision of this statute, that is great news for the landlord.  That means that if the tenant does not pay their rent on the first of the month that the landlord can immediately file an eviction on the sixth of the month after the 5 day grace period for paying rent has elapsed.

The only other notice time period to be aware of is if there is violence, or threats to health, safety or welfare of persons or property because of the tenant.  Basically, if the cops are getting called to the property, or drugs are being used at the property, then pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 66-28-517 the landlord only has to give the tenant 3 days notice before filing an eviction against the tenant.

 

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

 

 

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