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Protecting Affordable TN Neighborhoods as Gentrification Grows

Homes For All Nashville is working with the Legal Aid Society to make sure tenants in Tennessee understand their rights when it comes to renting in the state. (Alvine/Homes For All Nashville)
Homes For All Nashville is working with the Legal Aid Society to make sure tenants in Tennessee understand their rights when it comes to renting in the state. (Alvine/Homes For All Nashville)
January 11, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Across Tennessee, and specifically in metropolitan areas, havens of affordable housing are becoming gentrified urban neighborhoods. The trend may be great for curb appeal for the property owners, but it's often low-income families left holding the bag.

Organizations such as Homes For All Nashville and the Legal Aid Society are working to educate citizens about their rights when it comes to renting in the state, explains organizer Lauren Plummer.

"We've seen as there's been this big surge of affordable properties that are being sold off to investors, landlords finding reasons to evict long-time renters, often without very much notice at all, and definitely not enough time to find new housing," she said.

According to the Legal Aid Society, renters living in Tennessee counties with populations greater than 68,000 are protected by the Landlord Tenant Act. The law states that as a renter, you have the right to a livable place that complies with housing codes, and that the premises are clean and safe. By law, a landlord cannot force you out of your home by locking doors or shutting off utilities.

Experts advise renters to take pictures of your apartment when you move in, making sure the picture is date-stamped. Also, avoid paying rent in cash, but get a receipt if you do. Plummer says the best thing you can do is to communicate with your landlord in writing.

"We'll see people who were like, 'Oh, I just trusted my landlord. I don't have anything on paper,' and so really giving people the tools to start advocating for themselves in those kinds of situations too," she explained.

Local Legal Aid Society offices located throughout the state can offer help if you're encountering problems with your landlord.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN