Appeals Court Holds That Evicted Tenant Must Vacate Property in Order to Appeal Her Eviction.

In mid-September, the Tennessee Court of Appeals at Jackson held in Crye-Leike Prop. Mgmt. v. Dalton, No. W201502437COAR3CV, 2016 WL 4771769 (Tenn. Ct. App. Sept. 12, 2016),  that a tenant could not appeal her eviction when she did not pay the required possession bond of one-year’s rent. In that case, the landlord, Crye-Leike, filed a detainer action against the tenant, Dalton, after the Tenant refused to sign a new lease or vacate the property. The General Sessions court issued a judgment for the landlord and the tenant appealed.

In Tennessee, all appeals must be secured by an “appeal bond” or “cost bond” that will cover the costs of the appeal, should the appealing party lose. People of limited means may have the bond requirement waived by taking a “pauper’s oath,” affirming that they cannot afford to post the bond. However, appeals from detainer actions require an additional “possession bond” equal to one-year’s rent of the premises, for the purpose of paying off the costs and damages of the appeal, should the tenant lose on appeal. In order to take a pauper’s oath in lieu of posting a possession bond, the evicted tenant must vacate the premises, according to the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals based its decision off of a similar case from 2003 before the Tennessee Supreme Court, in which the Supreme Court held that a tenant was not required to post a possession bond if she vacated the premises. The Court of Appeals interpreted this decision to say that, contrarily, if a tenant did not vacate the premises, she was required to post the appeal bond, even if she had filed a pauper’s oath.

This case is a victory for landlords and investors, who are already forced to assume additional costs when tenants fail to pay their rent. Property owners should not be forced provide free housing to a tenant while an appeal from a detainer action is pending.

If you have tenants who are not paying their rent or have any questions regarding your lease agreements, contact Meridian Law at (615) 229-7499 or info@meridian.law.