the IT city, the I.T. Baby


The quick guide to being a law-abiding landlord in Nashville, TN

As I have nothing to write at the moment and have probably written this on Facebook 11 times now, figured I’d write a quick guide that would have saved me a lot of consternation. This costs you nothing and you’re not going to be directed somewhere where you have to pay to download a form.

Landlording in Nashville, TN

A completely not-baby tech related piece on a kid/baby tech site. Paul is not a lawyer, this is just one of his 7 jobs. As such take this as the ramblings of a man who’s been doing it since 2001.

OK, so you want to be a landlord. First I’m going to make some assumptions about you: you’re in your 20s to early 30s, you think it’s a good idea, you have not talked to any landlords who have told you it’s not a good idea, and you’re thinking this is something you’re going to be interested in.

As a note, this is not a good idea. You’re going to meet some of the worst (and best,) people on the planet and you’re going to have to deal with the after effects.

How to start

Own a piece of residential property. Not sure if it’s residential? Can’t help you.

Register as a landlord for $10 – you’ll need to keep this info updated and pay $10 a year. This is so they have a way to contact you if your tenant’s using the front lawn as a dump, has been arrested for dealing, lawn isn’t mowed, cars in the yard, is a stand up person all around. Failure to do this will result in them asking you to do it, failure to pay attention to that incurs a $50 a day penalty. They’re actually supposedly nice on this so just do everyone a favor and register. TCA 66-28-107.

You’ll need to plan to abide by the Title 66 Chapter 28, or the TN Uniform Landlord and Tenant act.

TL;DR version of the above is

  • Have an account set aside for tenant deposits ONLY. Place their deposit in that account. Failure to do so means you can’t withhold a dime from their deposit when it’s time to return it. Tell them what bank the deposit is in in case you die or something.
  • Have a contract/lease for the tenant to sign that doesn’t violate the Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act.
  • Various ways and timeframes you have to abide by in giving notice of anything.
  • That you can’t just barge in. Notice for non-emergencies is required.
  • That you can’t shut off their water or utilities.
  • That they’re a tenant until such time as they quit or you successfully evict them and a judge sets down an order.
  • Various ways to evict a person.
  • They owe you $11,000 and they give you a dollar until Tuesday, their debt is considered arranged/you accepted money.

Some notes on the rental contract

You can’t ask for anything that’s illegal. This includes excessive late fees, bounced check fees, work that’s illegal, etc. You can’t stipulate that if you sue them they will pay for the lawyer regardless of outcome. (You’ll sue for legal fees as part of the suit, so go and win it!)

I’m not sure if you can stipulate that pictures of the rental post-tenant will be sent to their parents, but you might be able to slap that in.

Here’s a sample that I’ve been using for 16 years complete with a glaring error or two.

Condition of the property

Smoke detectors – have them. Verify the day you give keys they beep. Tenant is responsible for them afterward.

Property should be mowed, no cars parking on grass. You’ll be the person who gets that notice to correct violation in the mail, and you’re the one responsible.

That and a lockable livable (tenable) place are the only big legal conditions to make sure of.

Bears repeating

  • Don’t take a payment that’s less than what is owed unless you’re cool with the possibility of that being their final payment.
  • Check the smoke alarms. Buy them and take a picture of them installed if they are missing.

That’s it?

Pretty much. Keep a small filing drawer. Pay your $10 when the notice comes. If you get a notice to correct a violation investigate and correct it. Make sure that deposit account is only used for deposits or plan to give them the entire deposit back.

A tenant threatens you for something, don’t react, investigate. You’re most likely not doing anything illegal as there’s not a whole lot of things you have to do. They threaten to call the cops, go for it, you’re not doing anything illegal unless you actually are.

I’ll probably post a how to landlord and not lose your freaking mind, along with scams I’ve seen in the past at some point.

That’s really it?

I miss something major? let me know in the comments. Same with if I’m wrong.

Sad that it’s free? Buy my kid a toy by the paypal donate button bottom right somewhere. Want to buy a landlord a lunch and hear horror stories? Drop me a line.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.