Tennessee Eviction Notices

Tennessee eviction notices are written warnings used by a landlord to notify a tenant of a breach of their lease agreement or other unlawful violation. Serving a tenant with an eviction notice is the first step of the eviction process. There are many reasons for which a landlord would be inclined to terminate the tenancy, such as failure to pay rent, property damage, or illegal activities, and different eviction notices exist to serve each purpose. Once an eviction notice is served, the tenant has a certain number of days to vacate the premises or, in some situations, remedy the violation or breach of the agreement. Tenants who fail to comply with the terms of an eviction notice will be served a detainer summons and the case will be heard by a judge in the appropriate County circuit court. It’s important to note that Tennesseeans residing in certain counties (Anderson, Blount, Bradley, Davidson, Hamilton, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, Sumner, Knox) must comply with eviction laws governed by the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA).


Notice Types

How to Evict a Tenant (Process)

Before filing an eviction lawsuit against a tenant, a landlord must first serve the tenant with an eviction notice stating the reason for eviction as well as the period of time in which the tenant must remedy the situation or vacate the premises. Any attempt by a landlord to remove a tenant from their property without following the steps below may result in the tenant filing a suit against the landlord.

Step 1 – Select Notice Type

Tennessee is governed by two different sets of laws; most counties follow the general laws set forth in the Tennessee Property Code (§ 66-7) while others (Anderson, Blount, Bradley, Davidson, Hamilton, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, Sumner, Knox) follow the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Although the notice period may alter depending on the county, the following forms are relevant to all:

30-Day Lease Termination Notice – Landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month tenancy; no reason is required (discrimination is prohibited).

30-Day Notice Notice to Cure or Quit – Non-compliance or violation of lease agreement. Tenant is given the opportunity to rectify the situation (if possible), otherwise they must vacate the premises.

14-Day Notice to Pay or Quit – Tenant has failed to pay rent and is given 14 days to pay, otherwise they must vacate the premises.

3-Day Notice to Vacate – Tenant has violated the law and is given 3 days to vacate the premises.

Immediate Eviction Notice – Tenant has violated laws regarding prostitution and/or drug-related activity and must vacate the property immediately upon delivery of notice.

Step 2 – Serve Notice

Since eviction notices are time sensitive, landlord’s must be mindful of the appropriate methods of delivery. A landlord must provide a written copy of the eviction notice to the tenant either by delivery in person, by posting it on the property (preferably on the front door of the domicile), or by certified mail. The notice period begins once the tenant has been handed the eviction notice.

Step 3 – Detainer Summons

A landlord may continue with the eviction process only after the notice period expires. Should the tenant fail to vacate the premises or remedy the situation, the landlord must obtain a detainer summons (also referred to as a detainer warrant) from their local circuit court. The summons is served upon the tenant by the sheriff or a process server advising the tenant of the court date and time, which must be at least six (6) days after service on the tenant.

Step 4 – Court Hearing

Eviction hearings are set before a judge in the circuit court of the county where the property is located. Failure by either party (landlord or tenant) to appear at the appointed court date and time will result in a default judgment in favor of the party who did appear in court. If both parties appear before the judge, they will be given the chance to plead their case and provide evidence in support of their plea. The judge will then make a ruling. A ruling in favor of the landlord will result in a ten (10) day grace period granted to the tenant to vacate the premises. If applicable, the judge may decide to award the landlord past due rent or payment for any damages to the property.

Step 5 – Appeal (If Applicable)

The tenant is awarded ten (10) days to appeal the eviction judgment should they wish to do so. A new trial date will be set in circuit court and the tenant must provide sufficient evidence in an attempt to retract the original judgment.

Step 6 – Writ of Possession

In the event of a ruling in favor of the landlord, and only after ten (10) days have passed since the judgment, the landlord can request a writ of possession from the court. The writ declares the property be transferred to the landlord and a sheriff will be asked to visit the property to remove the tenant and their belongings from the property, if they haven’t already vacated the premises.