The Legal Website for Knox County Property Owners and Managers
What is the Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act?
Residential Landlord & Tenant Act is one of a number of “uniform laws”
written by the Commission on Uniform State Laws. The “uniform laws” are not
real laws, but are merely recommendations of the Commission as to what the law
should be. The “uniform laws” were written for the purpose of reconciling
the hodge-podge of conflicting and “incorrect” state laws across the county.
The Commission is made up of lawyers and law professors who give painstaking
attention to creating a fair and workable law. Their work was accomplished with
a refreshingly low level of influence from lobbyists and special interest
groups. The “uniform laws” become real laws when they are adopted by the
various states and enacted as that state’s law. If enough states adopt a given
“uniform law” then the law across the country truly becomes uniform.
The states do not always adopt a uniform act exactly as written by the Commission. This is true of Tennessee and the Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act. The Tennessee version of the Act, adopted in 1975, is vastly different from the “real McCoy.” The Tennessee Assembly jumbled words around, hacked off the ends of sentences, inexplicably left out certain important words or phrases, and in several cases, goofed up the section to section references. The end result is that certain very important sections of the Act simply don’t do what they were intended to do. If you will envision your Uncle Jimmy out in the backyard monkeying around on the engine of a brand new car, you will not be far from the truth. Or more accurately, if you are familiar with how the Assembly works, envision your Uncle Jimmy and all of his friends and neighbors monkeying around on the same engine at the same time.
Some of the changes
were intentional efforts to improve or change the Uniform Act. However, some of
the changes were simply human errors made by a person not being able to copy the
language correctly from one document to another. [This all happened in 1975,
long before “cut and paste” was invented.] As one commentator put it, “The
Tennessee Legislature made a few mistakes in modifying the Uniform Act, and
changes are likely to be forthcoming with corrective legislation.” That
comment was made in 1976. Today, 24 years later, the mistakes have yet to be
corrected. The end result is that the Tennessee Act is not really uniform at
The key difference
between the Uniform Act and the Tennessee Act is that the Tennessee Act does not
apply to every county in Tennessee. It generally only applies to the more
populous counties of Tennessee, specifically, those counties having a population
of more than 68,000. However, the Assembly has made certain exceptions to this
rule based on population ranges. For instance, counties having a population
between 92,200 and 92,500 are excluded. Reviewing the 1990 Census [http://www.census.gov],
we see that Washington County is the only county within that population range
and it is therefore exempted from the Act. These extremely
clever population range classifications are a very popular way of doing things
in Nashville. So, besides not being uniform with the other states that have
enacted the Uniform Act, the Tennessee Uniform Act is not even uniform across
Tennessee. That is all extremely interesting, of course, but the key fact to
remember is that the Act does indeed apply to Knox County, as well as Blount
County and Anderson County. The following is a complete list of the counties to
which the Tennessee Uniform Residential Landlord & Tenant Act applies:
The information contained on this site is intended to educate members of the public generally and is not intended to provide solutions to individual legal problems. Readers are cautioned not to attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of information contained herein and are strongly advised to seek competent legal counsel before relying on information on this site.
This site is maintained by Vowell & Associates, Attorneys at Law, 6718 Albunda Drive, Knoxville TN 37919, Tel. 865-292-0000, Fax 865-292-0002, email email@example.com.
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