If Tennessee landlord doesn’t fix problems, you can’t afford to sue them or move, what are you supposed to do?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — We hear from people almost everyday who are at their wits’ end with their landlords.

A lot of people contact us saying their property manager isn’t making necessary repairs and therefore they feel at-risk.

We took an in-depth look at what the protections there are for tenants and what’s missing.

In Nashville, if a place is unsafe, like there’s poor wiring, plumbing or rotting wood, you can call Metro Codes. Problems with garbage, bugs or rats, you can call the Metro Health Department. Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee & the Cumberlands has a pamphlet with helpful information about the rights of renters. Rural renters can review a different pamphlet.

Having said that, there are gray areas.

Tennessee’s Landlord-Tenant Act doesn’t give renters the right to air conditioning. Mold is also not protected. And if problems aren’t fixed right away after you write your landlord a letter, the Legal Aid Society says your best bet is to sue your landlord or move.

We know those aren’t realistic options for everyone.

Some city leaders, including members of the Metro Council, want things to change.

“It’s really challenging because we don’t have state law that enables local government to be able to put some teeth into how we respond to issues,” said Erin Evans, Metro Council Member for District 12. “We can go down the Codes path, which is intensive and takes a long time, and that’s if it’s a code violation. It gets to be pretty complicated pretty quickly.”

Erin Evans says calls about unsatisfactory living conditions increase in the spring and summer. She hears a lot about broken air conditioning units that don’t get fixed quickly by property managers.

“The residents I’m often talking to don’t have the income levels to be putting their rent in escrow and paying for repairs themselves and going down that process. It makes it really challenging,” Evans said.

According to Legal Aid Society, when they surveyed 151 tenants who called the Nashville office to ask for legal help about their housing, about 1/3 reported issues with repairs in their apartments.

You can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office if you think your landlord has violated the law.

Published by Nashville News Channel 5 on May 15, 2024.


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