Tennessee Code Title 66. Property § 66-28-502

(a)(1) If the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply essential services, the tenant shall give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and may do one (1) of the following:

(A) Procure essential services during the period of the landlord's noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable costs from the rent;

(B) Recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit, provided tenant continues to occupy premises;  or

(C) Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord's noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord's noncompliance.

(2) In addition to the remedy provided in subdivision (a)(1)(C), the tenant may recover the actual and reasonable value of the substitute housing and in any case under this subsection (a), reasonable attorney's fees.

(3) “Essential services” means utility services, including gas, heat, electricity, and any other obligations imposed upon the landlord which materially affect the health and safety of the tenant.

(b) A tenant who proceeds under this section may not proceed under § 66-28-501 or § 66-28-503 as to that breach.

(c) The rights under this section do not arise until the tenant has given written notice to the landlord and has shown that the condition was not caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent.


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