How do I evict for unpaid rent?
June 17, 2008 5:45 PM   Subscribe

EvictionFilter: How do I evict a tenant for unpaid rent in Tennessee?

As of June 5, for 2008, the tenant owes $5550 in rent (6 mos X $925/mo), and he's paid $2425. Mostly partial payments, one small overpayment in April, and no payments in March or June. I know you're not a lawyer and not my lawyer, but first, I'm looking for legal *information*. In Hamilton County, TN, do I give 14-days notice (TN 66-7-109) or 30 (TN 66-28-505)? Also, there is currently no formal rental agreement -- I assume it's assumed to be a month-to-month arrangement. I know, that's stupid, but to further complicate things, it's a house my Mom owns, and she's asked me to handle it. Can I handle this without the expense of an attorney?

On top of the mechanics, how do I tactfully do it? They seem like decent people; they just can't or won't pay the rent. Things went well for the first two years, but they were down about $1500 last year, and now they're down $3125 in 2008. The husband changed jobs in late 2007, and that was the excuse then, and now the excuse is that the wife worked for some Ponzi scheme operator , and she was never paid in full. Times are tough for these folks, and I feel bad for them, but they're also making things tough on my Mom. The reality is that they need something they can afford, and I have to push them there. Plus, I'd be nice if they didn't leave the place trashed, and even though it's a pipe-dream, maybe feel obligated to make good on some past rent.

Any advise is most appreciated.
posted by lost_cause to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Ahem, advice, what am I, British?
posted by lost_cause at 5:53 PM on June 17, 2008

Call your sheriff's office. They will have someone on staff who can tell you how to proceed.

how do I tactfully do it?

This is important. You don't want to piss them off too bad because they may tear your place up on the way out...

I think 30-days is both generous and standard.

You should send a certified letter saying one of the following: 1.) Pay X amount by such and such date, or you've got 30 days to vacate. I don't know how you decide what X is - and the only reason you'd want to do this is if you want to see some of your back rent without taking them to court. Or if you just want them out, 2.) You are here by given 30-days notice. On such and such day (30 days + 12 hours) the sheriff's office will forcefully evict you if you are not already out.

Not having a lease has probably contributed some to their non-payment. Further, they probably know that this is coming so they should be partially prepared for it.

If you were going to seek legal advice for anything I'd do it for the back rent. That's quite a bit of money, certainly something you can take to small claims. Even with no lease, you've still got a verbal agreement which stands in most places. Generally the courts are happy to side with landlords in matters like this.

Good luck.
posted by wfrgms at 5:58 PM on June 17, 2008

Best answer: a) Figure out whether the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act applies to Hamilton County. Hint: I found out by simply Googling the two phrases.

b) Go back and read the two statutes very, very carefully. Decide which one applies to you based on your answer to a) above. Follow to the letter what the statute says you must do.

c) I strongly recommend you don't do what wfrgms proposes, which I believe is not in compliance with the two statutes you posted.

d) If you're still having difficulty figuring it out, hire an L&T lawyer in Hamilton County. The money you expend on an attorney might be mitigated by a) depersonalizing the eviction for your mother's tenants and thus making it less unpleasant for all concerned, b) giving you a fighting chance of recouping some of the back money your mom is owed, and, c) saving you the hassle of multiple court appearances if one is required to go to court in order to evict a tenant in Hamilton County, TN.
posted by lassie at 8:02 PM on June 17, 2008

Response by poster: Yes, the URLTA does apply in Hamilton County. I knew that. But I was having trouble deciphering it.

I reckon a better question would have been to ask if someone could give me a plain English translation of the URLTA, specifically section 505, with respect to nonpayment.

I was hoping to make this relatively quick and easy, but hiring an attorney may be the best course of action for the reasons lassie outlined.
posted by lost_cause at 4:45 AM on June 18, 2008

As per usual, lawyer up if you want to do it right.
posted by electroboy at 6:35 AM on June 18, 2008

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