Landlord-Tenant Law FAQ
- Are Tenants Legally Required to Continue to Pay Rent During COVID-19?
- Can Utility Companies Shut Off Utilities for Non-Payment During COVID-19?
- Can a Tenant Require the Landlord to Extend a Lease Due to COVID-19?
- Can Landlords Evict Tenants for Criminal Behavior During COVID-19?
A: Yes. No changes to the law have stopped private contracts from applying. All lease agreements that were entered into before and during COVID-19 continue to be valid unless they are illegal on a recognized legal ground. The Tennessee Supreme Court’s order that prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent does not excuse the payment of rent. Rather, this order temporarily halts eviction proceedings in the courts.
A: Yes. In the ordinary course of business, utilities can shut off to customers that do not pay. Most states have laws that require written notice to the user before utility shut off. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s website, this determination is up to your local power company. For those that use the Nashville Electric Service, NES states on their website: “NES will not cut off for nonpayment or charge late fees until May 31, 2020.”
A: No. Leases are governed in contract law and landlords are never required to allow tenants to continue to rent after a lease expires. Yet, with the current financial difficulties that many landlords and tenants are now facing, allowing tenants to stay may be a financially wise option for landlords in many cases.
A: Yes. The Tennessee Supreme Court’s instruction regarding evictions was specific in that it only prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent. Thus, landlords are legally allowed to evict a tenant for any other reason as they were able to before COVID-19. The Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act is a good reference to review for those wanting to find more information about the process for evictions.