TDCI Shares Tips for First-Time Renters

Monday, August 01, 2016 | 12:23pm

NASHVILLE – With a new school year beckoning, Tennessee college students are preparing to move into rental apartments and houses—some for the first time. The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Consumer Affairs urges first-time renters to do their homework before signing a lease.   

“We encourage consumers to know their rights so they can make informed decisions when it comes to leasing residential property,” said TDCI Deputy Commissioner Bill Giannini. “Be familiar with the duties required of your landlord, as well as your responsibilities as a tenant.”

If you’re looking to lease a residential property, review these essential tips provided by the Division of Consumer Affairs:

  • Know your rights. Many counties are covered by the Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. Find out if your county is covered here.
  • Ask for a written rental agreement before moving in. This sets the expectations of both parties and can prevent future disputes about the duration of the lease, the amount and date rent is due.
  • Keep a copy of the signed rental agreement and make sure to document in writing any repairs or renovations with anticipated dates for completion.
  • Residential landlords requiring security deposits prior to occupancy are required to hold all security deposits in an account used only for that purpose. Landlords may not retain any portion of the security deposit if it has not been placed in such an account.
  • The Tenant Act states that tenants shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the premises for inspection, repairs, improvements, or to show the property to prospective purchasers. The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.
  • The landlord may enter the dwelling without consent in the event of an emergency.
  • A tenant shall not engage in any illegal activity on the premises.
  • The landlord is responsible for providing working smoke alarms for rental units.
  • A landlord shall comply with applicable building and house codes materially affecting the health and safety of the tenant.

For more consumer tips and information related to the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, visit