The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the Tennessee government to make various changes to its ordinary way of operating. Our way of life has been impacted in an extremely unforeseen way and has left many people without jobs and with significant financial hardships. The Tennessee Supreme Court has altered its operations to increase the amount of remote court proceedings in order to minimize the spread of coronavirus. Housing in Tennessee has been an increasingly difficult matter during this time due to both COVID-19 as well as the tornadoes that swept across Middle Tennessee earlier this year. One of the changes implemented by the Tennessee Supreme Court during this time was in regard to eviction hearings. The Court suspended eviction hearings until June 1 as a means of protecting those who were financially unable to pay rent during this strange time. On March 13, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court declared a “state of emergency” for the state of Tennessee which included the provision that evictions would not be enforced until June 1, 2020.
On May 26, 2020, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued a new Order. This new Order lifted the suspension on eviction hearings and provided that these hearings were set to resume on June 1. The Order states that June 1 marks the lifting of the restrictions on eviction hearings so long as the landlord confirms (under penalty of perjury) that the eviction is not subject to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act was passed by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic partially as a means to protect tenants occupying certain premises who were unable to pay their rent due to financial struggles. Under the CARES Act, landlords were barred from forcing an eviction upon a tenant for nonpayment of rent. This included changing the locks, cutting off utility services, etc.
While the CARES Act temporarily relieved tenants of their obligation to pay rent on time to their landlord, the obligation still exists. Tenants are not absolved of their legal responsibility to pay the landlord after the restriction on eviction hearings is lifted.
If a property is not subject to the CARES Act, there is now nothing holding a landlord back from enforcing an eviction. June 1 marked the date for the resumption of eviction hearings. Now that courts have reopened its courtrooms to eviction proceedings, your landlord may begin the process of eviction if you have not paid your rent.