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  1. #1

    Default Use of Rental Space

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Tennessee

    We are renting a two bedroom apartment. We are a family of four consisting of two adults and two very young children both under 3. Our current set up is that we co-sleep with both of the children. Therefore the second room we do not need as a bedroom. Instead, we use that room for storage. The room does have a queen sized bed in it and a TV. But more than anything it has all the baby gear (ex. strollers) and toys.

    We had an inspection (we have monthly inspections) and we got a lease violation notice for having an "extremely cluttered" guest bedroom.

    So my main question is this... If we are otherwise good tenants who pay our rent on time and keep the rest of the house uncluttered, then what exactly is the problem and is this something they can enforce? The manager is claiming it is a safety issue and has picked on us for this in the past to the point where we did go get a storage unit for a lot of the extra things, but that unit is full. She, the manager, is stating that it is a safety issue because you cannot easily access the window in case of a fire. As if we would be jumping out of the two story window in event of a fire AND as I mentioned that room is not used for anything BUT storage. We never go in there other than to put things in it and take them out.

    Now, before you start imagining a hording situation, this is NOT garbage or filth. It is things such as a Radio Flyer wagon, a walker, stroller, a trunk full of toys, and there are some boxes with baby clothes. Oh, and at the time there are bag of Christmas presents we need to wrap.

    So in our lovely state of Tennessee what is the law regarding our rights of use of space in this rental unit?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,228

    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Quote Quoting JDIAC
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    We had an inspection (we have monthly inspections) and we got a lease violation notice for having an "extremely cluttered" guest bedroom.
    Just to confirm...your lease allows your landlord to "inspect" your apartment on a monthly basis and prohibits clutter??! Why would you agree to things like that? Can you quote the provisions that cover these things? Are you month-to-month or is your lease for a specified term (e.g., July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020)?


    Quote Quoting JDIAC
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    If we are otherwise good tenants who pay our rent on time and keep the rest of the house uncluttered, then what exactly is the problem and is this something they can enforce?
    Depends on exactly what your lease says, but why would you think a lease provision that you agreed to couldn't be enforced?


    Quote Quoting JDIAC
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    As if we would be jumping out of the two story window in event of a fire
    Would you rather stay in the apartment and burn to death instead of jumping onto a fireman's net? Heck, even jumping and breaking a leg would be preferable to human-b-que.


    Quote Quoting JDIAC
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    So in our lovely state of Tennessee what is the law regarding our rights of use of space in this rental unit?
    The law is that it depends on what your lease says.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Thanks for the response. What I mean about the second room and jumping out of the window during fire is that we are never in that room other than to put things in it and get them out. We are always either in the living room (huge door windows with a balcony) or our bedroom (more windows). So it is highly unlikely we would use the second bedroom to jump out of the window.

    The inspections are masked as "pest control" and someone comes in and sprays the apartment for bugs but I honestly believe they use this as an opportunity to micro-manage.

    This is what my lease violation states:

    "It has been noticed during inspection the guest room is extremely cluttered. This is a serious safety issue. Per your community rules, Section 21, paragraph 3, it specifically states: When unsanitary or unsafe conditions affecting the health and safety of the resident and their neighbors are discovered, an infraction notice will be issued to the resident and a re-inspection date will be established. If the unsanitary or unsafe condition is not corrected, appropriate action will be taken, up to and including termination of the lease. "

    This, in my opinion, is relative. It is not a safety issue for us because as I said, we do not use that room. I think she just doesn't like the look of the clutter. Once, she complained about the dining area clutter when we had things in that area...and that certainly was not a safety issue as there are no windows in the dining area.

    I mean this apartment is lived in by children...there is going to be clutter somewhere. I prefer it to be in the second room where no one goes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    I would argue that clutter in your apartment does not "affect[] the health and safety of [you] and [your] neighbors." At most, it affects your safety.

    Here's the thing...you can either unclutter the room or metaphorically flip your landlord the finger and see what happens. If there is a high demand for 2-bedroom apartments where you live, then the landlord might actually try to evict you. If I were you, I'd find a less obnoxious landlord at the first available opportunity.

  5. #5
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Quote Quoting JDIAC
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    I mean this apartment is lived in by children...there is going to be clutter somewhere. I prefer it to be in the second room where no one goes.
    Clutter is in the eye of the beholder. Your landlord says it's bad, you say it isn't. Unfortunately, your landlord has the leverage. He can evict you for creating a hazard and then what do you do with an eviction on your record.

    I can't say whether you're right or wrong without seeing the room. If you can figure out how to post a photo of the room, you'll get some opinions one way or the other. If you can't figure out how to post one here, there are a couple of other legal websites (thelaw dot com is one) where you can upload a photo into your post.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    why not just make sure that access to the window is kept clear and that should negate the argument that the clutter is unsafe as it blocks access to the egress window?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Quote Quoting yyz0
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    why not just make sure that access to the window is kept clear and that should negate the argument that the clutter is unsafe as it blocks access to the egress window?
    A Radio Flyer wagon, a walker, stroller, a trunk full of toys, some boxes with baby clothes, a bag of Christmas presents, and a queen size bed in an apartment bedroom that's probably 10 x 10.

    Unless all that stuff is piled on the bed, there is no path to the window.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    A Radio Flyer wagon, a walker, stroller, a trunk full of toys, some boxes with baby clothes, a bag of Christmas presents, and a queen size bed in an apartment bedroom that's probably 10 x 10.

    Unless all that stuff is piled on the bed, there is no path to the window.
    That seems pretty small for a bedroom. However I agree, if it would be that small there would not be a path to the window unless at least a good portion of it was piled on the bed.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    A Radio Flyer wagon, a walker, stroller, a trunk full of toys, some boxes with baby clothes, a bag of Christmas presents, and a queen size bed in an apartment bedroom that's probably 10 x 10.

    Unless all that stuff is piled on the bed, there is no path to the window.
    Is there a photo that you're looking at? Can you post a link to it?
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  10. #10

    Default Re: Use of Rental Space

    I believe we will just move this stuff into the dining area. I really don't like to do this because then my daughter, who is only 3, goes and gets all of the toys out at once and makes a mess in the rest of the house. I really don't see what the issue here is. It is a room we do not use. We are paying to rent the space. It helps keep the rest of the house in order.

    But like I mentioned, some of this was in the dining area before and she complained. If I move these things into the dining area where there are no windows, and it really cannot be claimed it is a safety issue, and she continues to complain about clutter, then it is fair to say she is just nitpicking, correct? If you have a landlord that is nitpicking and trying to control you in this way, what are your options? We really don't want to move until we are able to buy our own house.

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