A Tennessee Lease or Rental Application is a form used by Tennessee landlords to screen and vet potential tenants to determine whether they are reliable and able to pay rent promptly. A standard rental application allows a landlord to screen for any red flags before offering a lease agreement.
Under the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords must ensure their county’s coverage under the act. Month-to-month tenancy may arise under specific conditions, and landlords can conduct background checks on prospective tenants with consent. Understanding application fees, security deposits, and discrimination rights is essential for tenants. Below, you can find additional resources and information for landlords and tenants in Tennessee.
Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- The Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act only applies to counties having a population of 75,000 or more and does not apply to commercial property.
- Make sure your county is covered in the scope of the act.
- For parties not located in one of the provided counties, the terms of your future lease agreement will govern the rights and obligations of both parties  .
A month-to-month tenancy will arise if a landlord fails to sign the written rental agreement and accepts rent without hesitation.
Landlords may obtain a state-only background check or a nationwide background check.
Tennessee landlords and property managers can conduct background checks on prospective tenants. However, you’ll need a consent form signed by your prospective tenant. If you already have a background check agency performing the background checks, they may have their forms, or you can use our background check authorization form.
The Tennessee Housing Rights Act does not offer protection from housing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Other Resources for Landlords
- The Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act – Contains all landlords’ and tenants’ rights under Tennessee law.
- Tennessee Human Rights Act – Mirrors the federal Fair Housing Act.
- Sex Offender Registry – If you do background checks yourself, you can access the sex offender registry online. Use discretion in accessing this site.
- Department of Health – Tennessee has resources for renters and property owners that can help you understand what you need for a safe and habitable property and where you can get more assistance.
A rental application in Tennessee asks for basic information about the prospective tenant, including their name and current address, rental history, employment and financial information, and personal and professional references.
You can also charge an application fee. State law does not limit Tennessee rental application fees, but you should keep the amount reasonable to not price yourself out of applicants. Most experts recommend charging what it will cost to process the application and run a background check. An application fee is different from a security deposit. You collect the security deposit at the beginning of the rental to cover damage to the unit during a tenancy.
As per § 66-28-301, Tennessee has no limit on maximum security deposit amounts, but landlords must also use discretion. Tennessee is silent regarding pet deposits.
- There is no limit on the amount a landlord may require as an application fee.
- Landlords should use the application fee to supplement the costs of a tenant background check.
- Application fees must be reasonable.
Timeframe to File Complaint
Tenants and housing applicants may file a housing discrimination complaint up to 180 days from the date of the discriminatory act.
There is no set timeframe for a government investigation into the discriminatory act, but the Tennessee government website states investigations may take up to six months  .
Landlords may establish reasonable, minimum income criteria necessary for applicants to afford the unit but must apply the amount uniformly to all applicants.
Below you can download a Tennesse rental application template in PDF or Word format.