Tennessee Tenant Rights
If you’re setting out in search of a new place to live, whether it’s a rented home or an apartment, everyone has certain rights and is entitled to a certain standard of living. Before you sign on the dotted line, read the following to get a better idea of your rights as a Tennessee tenant.
At the most basic level, renters have the right to a livable home. Renters also have the right to live in that home peacefully, meaning that the landlord cannot unreasonably bother you or prevent you from enjoying your space.
When a tenant moves into their new home, the place must be in a safe and livable condition. This means the rental unit must comply with local health and building codes. The plumbing must be in working order, and the electrical wiring must be safe. Floors and walls need to be sturdy and have no gaping holes that could cause injury or let in the weather. If the rental unit comes with appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, heaters or A/C units, these must also be in working order.
If there are any problems when you move in, you need to notify the landlord right away. Put your repair request in writing and save a copy. The landlord should begin these repairs immediately.
As we mentioned above, landlords must keep the rental unit in a livable condition and in good repair. The landlord is required to make all the repairs noted in the lease. If the landlord has been notified of the problem and at least two weeks have passed, you are entitled to take the landlord to court and force him to make repairs. A judge can also force the landlord to repay you for money that you sent making repairs the landlord would not fix.
If the repair is a truly serious one, such as trouble with lights, heat, gas, water or other plumbing problems, then other, more drastic action can be taken.Assuming the problems were not your fault, then you can do one of the following things:
- Use rent money to fix things and then deduct this amount from your rent, or
- Sue your landlord for the repair money, or
- You can move out while the repairs are taking place and not pay rent on the place being repaired for the period you had to move away.
Many people nervous about getting their own place will be comforted to know that landlords cannot legally change the locks or shut off the electricity to make you move. This is true even if the lease says they can do these things.It’s even true if you are behind on rent. So does that mean you can stay-forever, rent-free? Nope, but before a landlord can evict you they must first give you notice. Notice means warning time. The landlord has to warn you before-moving for eviction and then the landlord must go to court to have you put out.The amount of notice depends on how often you pay rent. For example, if you pay rent every two weeks, you are required to receive two weeks’ notice.
As everyone prepares to graduate high school and move on to bigger and better things, getting an apartment and living on your own is one of the biggest stepson the path to independence. Before you jump into signing a lease, take a look at the following discussion of some of your rights in the context of housing.
Fair housing laws
Many people may not know that in Tennessee, and every other state in the country,there are fair housing laws which are aimed at preventing discrimination in the sale or leasing of housing. This means that no rental agencies, apartment companies or private landlords are permitted to base their housing decisions on a person’s race, color, nationality, religion, sex, familial status or disability.
The law makes clear that any refusal to rent or sell housing, any unfair conditions or different housing terms imposed on the basis of the above factors is a violation of federal law and can lead to very serious legal trouble. Everyone deserves housing and the law is clear that we ought to all be treated fairly in the process.
Those with physical or mental disabilities have even further protection when it comes to housing. The law makes clear that if you have a handicap your landlord is not allowed to refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling, so long as they are at your expense, if they are necessary to use the housing. Landlords must also make reasonable accommodations in their rules or practices to ensure that disabled individuals can use their housing. For example, an apartment complex with a strict no pets policy would have to allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
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