Common Questions for Security Deposits in Tennessee

There is a law that has recently been put into effect in Tennessee concerning the way that Landlords can collect a damage deposit from the tenant. The new law is easier than the old law but it requires a few different steps from both the land lord and the tenant to keep the security deposit. First there are things that renters and landlords should know.

1) Q: Do I have to return my rental unit in the same condition that it was rented to me in?

A: NO! Reasonable wear is allowed. Don’t go crazy with this one. You have to keep the premises nice and you can’t damage the property (tear out the toilets and spray paint the walls)

2) Q: What is reasonable wear and tear?

A: IT DEPENDS. not all places are the same. If a place has been occupied by a tenant for a long amount of time, it can be reasonable to put in new carpet. Most units experience so wear from age so the tenant is not responsible for everything that happens through normal use of the apartment. Not acceptable, large holes in walls, missing doors, broken windows, etc New Paint, Replacement Carpet (for very old carpet) small dings, some natural wear on the premises is acceptable. The million dollar question. 10 DAYS BEFORE MOVEOUT- BEFORE ANY REPAIRS-

Q- What does the landlord have to do before you move out?

A: The landlord HAS TO inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive list of any damage to the unit that is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing the damage. (b) Within ten (10) business days of the termination of occupancy, but prior to any repairs or cleanup of the premises:-The tenant shall then have the right to inspect the premises to ascertain the accuracy of the listing. -The landlord and the tenant shall sign the listing, which signatures shall be conclusive evidence of the accuracy of the listing. -If the tenant refuses to sign the listing, the tenant shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to which the tenant dissents, and shall sign the statement of dissent-

Q: What if the landlord cant find you because you didn’t give a last known address

A: If the Landlord cant find you, he has to go through the house and put together a list and send it to your last known address Of the tenant has moved or is otherwise inaccessible to the landlord, and, if at least ten (10) days before the lease termination date, the landlord has given the tenant written notice of the tenant’s right to schedule a mutual inspection of the subject premises with the landlord during normal business hours and the tenant has not contacted the landlord prior to vacating the premises or the tenant has waived in writing the right of inspection, the landlord shall then inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive listing of any damage to the unit that is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing the damage. The landlord shall then mail a copy of the listing of damages and estimated cost of repairs to the tenant at the tenant’s last known mailing address. After mailing the copy of the listing of damages and estimated cost of repairs to the tenant, the landlord may begin to prepare the unit for occupancy.

Q: Can a landlord keep my deposit if she didn’t put the money in a separate account?

A: No. (c) No landlord shall be entitled to retain any portion of a security deposit if the security deposit was not deposited in a separate account as required by subsection (a) and if the final damage listing required by subsection (b) is not provided.

Q: What happens if don’t agree with the final list of damages and we can ‘t agree on what was wrong with the unit?

A: Have the judge decide in court. (d) A tenant who disputes the accuracy of the final damage listing given pursuant to subsection (b) may bring an action in a circuit or general sessions court of competent jurisdiction of this state. The tenant’s claim shall be limited to those items from which the tenant specifically dissented in accordance with the listing or specifically dissented in accordance with subsection (b); otherwise the tenant shall not be entitled to recover any damages under this section.

Q: What if I owe Money to the landlord when I move out?

A: Don’t owe money! (e) Should a tenant vacate the premises with unpaid rent or other amounts due and owing, the landlord may remove the deposit from the account and apply the moneys to the unpaid debt.

Q: How Long do I have to respond to the landlords list of claimed damages?

A: 60 days to respond to the damages (f) In the event the tenant leaves not owing rent and having any refund due, the landlord shall send notification to the last known or reasonable determinable address, of the amount of any refund due the tenant. In the event the landlord shall not have received a response from the tenant within sixty (60) days from the sending of such notification, the landlord may remove the deposit from the account and retain it free from any claim of the tenant or any person claiming in the tenant’s behalf. (g) This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from recovering other damages to which such landlord or tenant may be entitled under this chapter. (h) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a), all landlords of residential property shall be required to notify their tenants at the time such persons sign the lease and submit the security deposit, of the location of the separate account required to be maintained pursuant to this section, but shall not be required to provide the account number to such persons, nor shall they be required to provide such information to a person who is a prospective tenant.

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