Renting is quite different than home ownership because renters are not
usually responsible for home repairs. For example, if a roof is leaking,
it’s the landlord’s responsibility to repair the leak. Or,
if there are tree roots clogging the main line, the landlord is the one
who pays to repair or replace the plumbing pipes, which could cost hundreds
if not thousands.
Although landlords are ultimately responsible for the major repairs, that
doesn’t mean renters are entirely off the hook. They can’t
go around destroying the property and expect it to be okay, but this happens
all the time. For this reason, landlords are in the habit of taking security
deposits. If a renter is negligent and causes a lot of damage to a rental
property and the damage exceeds their security deposit, the landlord can
file a civil lawsuit against the renter.
Your Duties as a Renter
Whether someone is renting a house, an apartment, a condo, duplex, townhome,
cabin, or trailer, they’re expected to be clean and take care of
the property. Renters can rent without any formal agreement in place,
or they can enter into a lease. In Tennessee, most renters sign one-year
leases where they pay rent each month until the lease is up. When the
lease has been fulfilled, the renter and landlord will decide whether
to enter into another lease or have the renter move out.
Lease agreements are not to be minimized; they are legally-binding contracts.
Some leases address minor repairs, pet policies, pest control and reporting
requirements for water damage, while others are less specific.
If you are a renter, you are responsible to:
- Pay your rent on time,
- Keep the property clean,
- Keep any carpets stain-free,
- Take care of the yard (unless the lease says it’s the landlord’s
- Not let anyone damage the property,
- Keep the property safe for visitors, and
- Notify the landlord if there’s a maintenance issue, such as a leaky
roof, water damage, a plumbing leak, or an unsafe condition.
If a renter trashes the property, or if they break the lease by moving
out before the lease is over without paying the full 12 months’
rent due, the landlord can take legal action against the renter. For example,
let’s say that “Joe” signed a one-year lease to live
in Mike’s three-bedroom home. But on month six, Joe decides to move
to Hollywood to be an actor.
If he were to pay Mike the six remaining months of rent that he owes on
the lease, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but if Joe runs off to California
without paying Mike the last six months of rent due on the lease, Joe’s
broken his lease and can face legal action from Mike, even if he's
What if I Have a Landlord-Tenant Dispute?
If you have a landlord-tenant dispute, I encourage you to contact my firm
to explore your legal options. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant,
I can help you determine the best course of action.
Contact my firm today to get help from an experienced Nashville
real estate attorney.