I need help with a renter’s rights question. I have been renting the home I am presently in since August 15, 2014. I renewed the lease in August of 2015. Shortly thereafter I received a letter from the homeowner
saying that they were firing the property management company and to pay my rent directly to them. Since I had never been in contact or knew the name of the owner, I contacted the management office and was informed that they are the ones cancelling the contract with the owner. The Property Manager of the leasing company did tell me that the owners were difficult people to work with, and may have been facing foreclosure. (I don’t think she was supposed to have disclosed that bit of information, but through a phone conversation she did). I have always been against renting directly from a private owner because many of them don’t conduct themselves professionally, but after speaking with an attorney, I was still on the hook for the lease with the owners until it expires.
When speaking with the wife of the owner, they told me to disregard the old lease, as they would be sending me a new one. She also informed me that the house was in no danger of being foreclosed on as the property manager had stated. She sent me a photocopy of two Wells Fargo Mortgage
receipts from the previous two months showing payments made. I explained to her that this was not reassurance since I obviously have no knowledge who and what house the receipt is for since they own two houses. Upon receiving the new lease, they graciously lowered the rent by 50 dollars, and explained that they wanted to have it deposited into their bank account no later than the 5th or 6th of each month. I asked at that time if there was any other payment methods they were willing to accept because we’ve always had several different ways in which we used to pay our rent (credit card, debit card, checks, checking account, savings acct, etc.) The owner said no because they are not equipped to accept these forms of payment, and since they are truck drivers, they are not at home and mostly on the road. I informed them that this would put a financial strain on my family, and we would have to pay on the 15th of each month. The owner of the home agreed and told me to scratch out any parts of the lease I didn’t agree with, per our discussion, initial it, send it back to them, and they would sign it and send us a copy of it. I did so, but have never received the final copy where they initialed the changes. I do have a copy where they initially signed.
About two months ago, I started getting calls from the owners on the morning of the 15th asking about the rent and when it would be deposited. I informed them that though it was the 15th, we were not late and still had the 5 day grace period as agreed upon. The owner’s wife then leaves me a message saying that she never agreed to the 5 day grace period at all and that we need to re-negotiate the terms. My husband called them back and had to leave a message saying he would like to be present at the meeting if they were thinking of coming here to sign a new lease, and provided dates to which we could meet. We never heard from them until the 15th of this month, in which an argument ensued about us having 6 kids and needing to pay our rent on time. My husband was patient did not argue, and the owner’s wife apologized for the comments made.
We sent a certified letter following the conversation advising that we will not be harassed and asked them to go back and view the lease agreement and its terms, and that moving forward all communication needs to be done in writing. We also provided a 30 days notice to vacate since it appeared they wanted to breach the terms of the contract. We received a response via text message basically venting about asking not to be harassed, and saying that the home is due to be foreclosed on anyway by June 3rd, and the deposit they once retained for us had been spent.
My question is, based off tenants rights
in the state of Tennessee, what legal recourse do we have in this situation?