What does the law in TN say regarding a tenant breaking a year lease?

UPDATED: May 29, 2009

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What does the law in TN say regarding a tenant breaking a year lease?

Asked on May 29, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a tenant is bound to the length of the lease unless the landlord significantly breaks the law or violates its terms -- for example, by failing to make necessary repairs, or by failing to comply with an important lease clause. 

A few states have laws that allow tenants to break a lease because of health problems or a job relocation that requires a permanent move.  Federal law and many similar state laws allow tenants who enter active military service and related government positions to terminate a lease early.  On brief inspection of the applicable statutes I did not find this to be the case under Tennessee law.

A tenant who breaks a lease without good cause will be responsible for the remaining rent due under the lease term.  However, a landlord has a legal duty to mitigate damages by using reasonable efforts to try to find a new tenant -- no matter what the tenant's reason for leaving -- rather than charge the tenant for the total remaining rent due under the lease.

If you have a disagreement with your tenant, you may be able to use mediation to resolve the problem, or you may take your tenant to small-claims court.

The above is based on a quick review of the law, for a more comprehensive response you would need to speak with an attorney in your area.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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