Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 66: Property

Chapter 28: Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Part 3: Landlord Obligations

TCA 66-28-301: Security deposits.

(a) All landlords of residential property requiring security deposits prior to occupancy are required to deposit all tenants' security deposits in an account used only for that purpose, in any bank or other lending institution subject to regulation by the state of Tennessee or any agency of the United States government.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (b)(2)(B), the tenant shall have the right to inspect the premises to determine the tenant's liability for physical damages that are the basis for any charge against the security deposit. An inspection of the premises to determine the tenant's liability for physical damages that are the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the landlord's estimated costs to repair such damage shall be conducted as follows:

(1) (A) Upon request by the landlord for a tenant to vacate or within five (5) days after receipt by the landlord of written notice of the tenant's intent to vacate, the landlord may provide notice to the tenant of the tenant's right to be present at the inspection of the premises. Such notice may advise the tenant that the tenant may request a time of inspection to be set by the landlord during normal working hours. The landlord may require the inspection to be after the tenant has completely vacated the premises and is ready to surrender possession and return all means of access to the entire premises; provided, that the inspection shall be either on the day the tenant completely vacates the premises or within four (4) calendar days of the tenant vacating the premises. If the landlord provides written notice of the tenant's right to be present at the landlord's inspection and the tenant schedules an inspection, but fails to attend such inspection, the tenant waives the right to contest any damages found by the landlord as a result of such inspection by the landlord; provided, that notice of the tenant's waiver upon such circumstances is set out in the rental agreement.

(B) If a tenant requests a mutual inspection as provided in subdivision (b)(1)(A), the landlord and tenant shall then inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive listing of any presently ascertainable damage to the unit that is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing the damage. The landlord and tenant shall sign the listing. Except as provided in subsection (g), the signatures of the landlord and the tenant on the listing shall be conclusive evidence of the accuracy of the listing. If the tenant refuses to sign the listing, the tenant shall state specifically in writing the items on the list to which the tenant dissents.

(2) (A) If the tenant has acted in any manner set out in subdivisions (b)(2)(B)(i)-(vi), the landlord may inspect the premises and compile a comprehensive listing of any presently ascertainable damage to the unit that is the basis for any charge against the security deposit and the estimated dollar cost of repairing the damage without providing the tenant an opportunity to inspect the premises; provided, that the landlord provides a written copy, sent by certificate of mailing to the tenant, of the listing of any damages and estimated cost of repairs to the tenant upon the tenant's written request.

(B) The tenant shall not have a right to inspect the premises as provided in this section if the tenant has:

(i) Vacated the rental premises without giving written notice;

(ii) Abandoned the premises;

(iii) Been judicially removed from the premises;

(iv) Not contacted the landlord after the landlord's notice of right to mutual inspection of the premises;

(v) Failed to appear at the arranged time of inspection as provided in subdivision (b)(1); or

(vi) If the tenant has not requested a mutual inspection pursuant to subsection (b) or is otherwise inaccessible to the landlord.

(c) No landlord shall be entitled to retain any portion of a security deposit if the security deposit was not deposited in an account as required by subsection (a) and a listing of damages is not provided as required by subsection (b).

(d) A tenant who disputes the accuracy of the final damage listing given pursuant to subsection (b) may bring an action in a circuit or general sessions court of competent jurisdiction of this state. The tenant's claim shall be limited to those items from which the tenant specifically dissented in accordance with the listing or specifically dissented in accordance with subsection (b); otherwise the tenant shall not be entitled to recover any damages under this section.

(e) Should a tenant vacate the premises with unpaid rent or other amounts due and owing, the landlord may remove the deposit from the account and apply the moneys to the unpaid debt.

(f) In the event the tenant leaves not owing rent and having any refund due, the landlord shall send notification to the last known or reasonable determinable address, of the amount of any refund due the tenant. In the event the landlord shall not have received a response from the tenant within sixty (60) days from the sending of such notification, the landlord may remove the deposit from the account and retain it free from any claim of the tenant or any person claiming in the tenant's behalf.

(g) Nothing in this section precludes the landlord from recovering the costs of any and all contractual damages to which the landlord may be entitled, plus the cost of any additional physical damages to the premises that are discovered after an inspection that has been completed pursuant to subsection (b); provided, however, that costs of any physical damage to the premises may only be recovered if the damage was discovered by the landlord prior to the earlier of:

(1) Thirty (30) days after the tenant vacated or abandoned the premises; or

(2) Seven (7) days after a new tenant takes possession of the premises.

(h) Notwithstanding subsection (a), all landlords of residential property shall be required to notify their tenants at the time such persons sign the lease and submit the security deposit, of the location of the account required to be maintained pursuant to this section, but shall not be required to provide the account number to such persons.

History: Acts 1975, ch. 245, SC 2.101; T.C.A., SC 64-2821; Acts 1984, ch. 645, SC 1; 1992, ch. 995, SCSC 2, 4-6; 1997, ch. 397, SCSC 1, 2; 2001, ch. 153, SC 4; 2004, ch. 683, SC 1; 2005, ch. 156, SC 2; 2008, ch. 1067, SC 3; 2011, ch. 272, SCSC 6-9; 2012, ch. 887, SC 1.