What are my Responsibilities and Rights as a Renter ?

Renters are responsible for cleanliness and safety.  You may rent without any formal agreement, or you may have a lease agreement.  The most common type of renter in Tennessee is a renter who signs a lease agreement to pay rent each month throughout the year. 

Renters may be asked to provide a security deposit.  Lease agreements are legally binding contracts. You are responsible for following the terms of your lease. Some lease agreements have an addendum for pet policies, pest control contracts or for reporting water damage. 

You are responsible for:

  • paying your rent on time,
  • paying any late fees,
  • keeping the place clean and safe,
  • not letting anyone else damage it,
  • not breaking the law,
  • disposing of your recycling and garbage, and
  • following your landlord’s rules. 

If you break your lease, then it may become a legal issue.


According to the Legal Aid Society, as a renter you have the right to a livable place and to live peacefully.  Your rights as a renter may vary depending on which county you live in.  The Legal Aid Society has a useful fact sheet to help you understand your rights as a renter.  How to contact the Legal Aid Society is listed below.

If your rental home needs an emergency repair to keep it healthy, such as a repair of the heat, gas, lights, water, sewage, plumbing or air conditioning, you should alert your landlord.  In some counties you can use some of your rent money to make these immediate repairs.  If the problem was your fault, you may have to help pay for the repairs.

You cannot be forced out of your rental home.  You cannot be evicted without notice.  The landlord cannot change the locks or shut off your utilities to make you leave.  Most of the time, a landlord needs to go to court before evicting you.  If you did something dangerous or threatening, the landlord only needs to give you three (3) days to move out.  If you did not pay rent or broke your lease agreement, you may be given a thirty (30) day notice to move out.   If you have legal questions about housing, you should consult with an attorney or legal services.

Click to download the Legal Aid Society's fact sheets about Renters Rights below: