Renting out apartments can be a lucrative endeavor for many people in Tennessee. But, just like any other business dealing, this endeavor relies on contracts — specifically leases. Landlords depend on their tenants to pay rent on time and to possess the premises. Sometimes, however, rent goes unpaid and the tenants cannot be found. Tennessee law addresses what rights landlords have in such situations.
Under Tennessee Code section 66-28-405, if a tenant abandons the premises, the landlord has express permission to go into and retake possession of the premises. A tenant is considered to have abandoned the premises if he or she has an unexplained or extended absence from the rental for at least 30 days and has not been paying rent.
A tenant may also have abandoned the premises if he or she is at least 15 days late in paying rent and there are reasonable indications that he or she has permanently vacated the rental. This may be the case if the tenant removed all their furniture and possessions from the rental or took their name off the water and electricity bills on the rental, leaving them unpaid. In this situation, the landlord has certain notice requirements that must be followed before he or she can retake the premises.
It is assumed that if a person rents an apartment that they will be living in it. Landlords are counting on tenants to reside in the apartment, keep the apartment clean and report any repairs or maintenance the landlord must make on the apartment. Moreover, a landlord is depending on the tenants to pay the rent, so the landlord can pay for the mortgage on the premises, homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and other costs associated with owning a building. Good communication between the landlord and tenant is essential, and it is also essential that tenants fulfill their part of the lease by residing in the premises and paying what they owe in rent. If a tenant has effectively abandoned the premises, the landlord may be able to take the premises back, depending on the circumstances.