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Tennessee Security Deposit Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

A security deposit is a sum of money (usually one-months' rent) separate from the advance rent payments that a new tenant pays to the landlord. The security deposit serves to limit the financial loss to a landlord if a tenant breaks the lease and moves out early or damages property beyond normal wear and tear. The rules surrounding security deposits vary by state. Unlike some states, Tennessee has no statutory limits as to what a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit.

Summary of Tennessee Security Deposit Laws

Security deposit laws are determined by the jurisdiction of the state where the property is located. Because local and county laws may differ, be sure to check out the relevant laws for your area. For a plain English summary of statewide laws, check out the chart below.

Statutes

Tennessee Code Title 66. Property:

Landlord Duties

 

 

Storage of the Security Deposit

A landlord must deposit a tenant's security deposit in a separate account. The account must be in a financial institution that's subject to government regulations or Tennessee state regulations, but the account doesn't have to earn interest.

If a landlord doesn't store a tenant's deposit in an account properly, the landlord can't keep any portion of the tenant's security deposit.

Written Notice

The landlord must notify the tenant in writing that the security deposit has been placed in a separate account. The landlord must include the location of the security, but they aren't required to provide the tenant with the account number.

Walk-Through Inspection

Tennessee requires landlords and tenants to complete a walk-through inspection to document any property damage:

  • When the landlord gives tenant the notice to vacate the unit or within 5 days of receiving a tenant's written notice to vacate: the landlord must give tenant written notice of the tenant's right to be present for the walk-through;
  • The inspection must take place within 4 days of the tenant moving out of the unit;
  • The tenant can request a time for the inspection to take place during normal business hours, but the landlord will set the actual inspection time.

Tenant Present for Inspection

  • If the tenant is at the inspection, both parties must go through the property and put together a list of all damages to the property and approximate the cost of repair. The landlord and the tenant must sign this list. The tenant's signature serves as acceptance of the damages.
  • If the tenant refuses to sign, they must put together a written list indicating the damages they don't agree with. The tenant can then pursue legal action concerning these items.

Tenant No-show for Inspection

If the tenant has an inspection time with the landlord, but fails to show, the tenant loses the right to contest any damages the landlord lists in the inspection report.

Deadline for the Return of the Security Deposit

  • The landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days of the tenant leaving.
  • The landlord must send a notification to the last known address of the tenant. This should include the itemized list of damages and the amount of deposit owed to the tenant.
  • If the tenant doesn't respond to this request within 60 days, the landlord can remove the deposit from the account because the tenant no longer has any right to it.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Tennessee Security Deposit Laws: Related Resources

Questions About Tennessee Security Deposit Laws? Ask an Attorney

If you're a tenant whose landlord hasn't returned your security deposit or you need help with another matter, you should talk to a professional familiar with Tennessee security deposit laws. Contact a Tennessee landlord-tenant attorney near you to get answers to your landlord/tenant questions.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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