Navigating Nashville’s Property Laws: What You Need to Know

July 4, 2024 TCSMgmt

Navigating Nashville’s Property Laws: What You Need to Know

Navigating Nashville's Property Laws: What You Need to Know - Article Banner

The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act is what governs the laws around rental properties in Nashville and throughout Tennessee. There are also a number of federal laws that rental property owners need to be aware of when they’re working hard to stay compliant with rental laws

Renting out an investment property in Nashville is a good idea, especially now. There’s a lot of opportunity, rents have risen, and so have property values. Tennessee is also a fairly landlord-friendly state, especially compared to places like California, Oregon, and New York. You don’t have to worry about harsh rental restrictions or detailed tenant protections. 

There are a number of specific regulations you need to be aware of, however, especially when you’re trying to avoid expensive legal mistakes. It’s easy to unintentionally forget an important timeline or use the wrong language in a listing. 

Understanding and maneuvering the legal landscape regarding real estate and rental properties is essential. And, it’s not always easy, especially since the laws are changing frequently. 

As Nashville property managers, it’s our job to keep our owners and investors compliant with all state, local, and federal rental laws. We’re telling you some of the most important things that you need to know about keeping up with rental laws. 

Fair Housing Laws and Disability Protections

The two most important federal laws you need to know are the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Fair housing laws make it illegal to discriminate when you’re marketing your property, screening applications, or enforcing your lease with tenants. It’s critical that you’re consistent, and you need documented processes that prove you are treating everyone fairly and equally. You need to be aware of the language you use when you’re marketing your property as well. You don’t want to hint that you might be giving preference for one group of people over another. Focus on how your property would appeal to everyone.

Legally, you cannot make decisions or take actions based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Familial Status
  • Disability

The Human Rights Act in Tennessee is the state version of the federal fair housing laws. All the same federally protected classes are protected by the state law. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act is also important for Nashville real estate investors to understand. You’re legally required to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. This could be a wheelchair ramp, a dedicated parking space, grab bars in the shower, or a service animal. 

While we’re on the topic of federal laws, it’s also a good idea to review the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which applies to the way you collect information from applicants and how you notify tenants if they’ve been denied a rental home due to information on their credit report.

Key Nashville Property Laws

Nashville may have unique ordinances and regulations that affect rental properties. Here are some you should keep in mind:

  • Habitability Laws.  Landlords in Nashville have 14 days to make a repair once the request is made in writing. You’re legally obligated to provide a home that is safe, habitable, and functional. If you take too long to make a repair, tenants have the right to withhold rent or to pay for the repairs themselves and deduct that amount from their next rental payment.  
  • Short-Term Rental Properties (STRPs). If you’re considering entering the short-term rental market, such as Airbnb or VRBO, you must be aware of Nashville’s strict regulations. These include obtaining a permit, adhering to occupancy restrictions, and paying appropriate taxes.
  • Rent Control Laws. Nashville does not have rent control or enforce limits on where you set the rent or how much you raise it when a lease renews. 

 

  • Lease Agreements. Ensure that lease agreements comply with state laws and clearly lay out the expectations and responsibilities of both parties. These should be written in clear language to avoid ambiguity.

Understanding and following the correct legal procedures can save you a significant amount of time and resources

Eviction Process in Nashville

Should the need arise to evict a tenant, be sure that you’re following the strict legal process. This includes serving a proper eviction notice and going through the court process if the tenant does not comply.

The most common reason to evict a tenant in Nashville is nonpayment of rent. You’ll need to serve a 14 Day Pay or Quit Notice. The tenant will have 14 days to catch up with the late rental payment or move out of the property. If they don’t, you are free to terminate the tenancy and pursue a legal eviction through the courts. 

Security Deposit Laws 

Security DepositThere is no limit to what you can charge in a security deposit. Tennessee does not put a cap on the money you collect as a security deposit, but best practices tend to say that the equivalent of one month’s rent is usually adequate. You want to be able to protect yourself, but you also don’t want to make it cost prohibitive for tenants to move in. 

You are required to hold the tenant’s security deposit in a separate account. You cannot let those funds commingled with your own money. 

As a Nashville rental property owner, you’re required to return your tenant’s deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out. You’re permitted to deduct from the security deposit for tenant damage, unpaid rent and utilities, or cleaning and hauling fees when the tenant does not move everything out of their home or leaves trash and mess behind. 

You cannot deduct for normal wear and tear. 

If you do make deductions, include an itemized list of what you deducted and why. 

Pay close attention to the specific property laws that apply to your rental property in Nashville. By staying informed and compliant, you safeguard your investment and protect yourself from risk and liability. We know it can be challenging to keep up with all these laws. We’d be happy to help. Please contact us to learn more about what you need to know and how you can avoid mistakes. 

TCS Management is a full service property management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also serving Cherry Hill, NJ, Wilmington, Delaware, Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas. We focus on single-family and multifamily residential property management of homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,