Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Tennessee since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
State laws in Tennessee cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
Tennessee Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under Tennessee law, a landlord cannot charge a late fee until the rent is five days late (the day rent is due is counted as the first day). If day five is a Sunday or legal holiday, the landlord cannot impose a fee if the rent is paid on the next business day. The fee cannot exceed 10% of the amount past due.
Amount of Notice Tennessee Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
Tennessee does not have a state statute on the amount of notice the landlord must provide tenants in order to increase the rent or change other terms of a month-to-month rental agreement. Unless your rental agreement specifies otherwise, the landlord must typically provide the same amount of notice to change the rent or another term of the tenancy as state law requires the landlord to provide when ending the tenancy—in this case, 30 days. Keep in mind that if you have a long-term lease, the landlord may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination
Tennessee landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, Tennessee landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
Tennessee State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. Tennessee landlords must give tenants at least fourteen days in which to pay the rent and sixteen days in which to move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction.
Tennessee Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Tennessee landlord-tenant law, see http://www.sitemason.com/files/edGzXa/Rural%20Renters%20web%202004.pdf.
Tennessee State Laws on Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent, see Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 66-28-201(c), 66-28-201(d), and 66-28-512.
For Tennessee laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-28-505.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.