June 4, 2014
by J. Skipper Ray
Wilson & Associates, PLLC – USFN Member (Arkansas, Tennessee)
Signed into law in March is HB1409, which describes how plaintiffs are to handle personal property pursuant to lockouts in all eviction maters (filed pursuant to the unlawful detainer statute) in Tennessee, beginning July 1, 2014. The law also tolls the running of any local/municipal deadlines relating to the personal property, along with insulating the local municipality (and the plaintiff, in most cases) from any liability relating to damage to the personal property after it has been removed.
The law clarifies, and slightly alters, what had been the custom in Tennessee (although some local jurisdictions had their own formal and/or customary requirements), which was to remove the remaining personal property to the curb. The new law, which will be applicable in all jurisdictions statewide, provides that the plaintiff, or a designated representative, can remove the personal property from the interior of the residence, but that it must remain “[o]n the premises,” and be moved to “an appropriate area clear of the entrance to the premises,” and “[a]t a reasonable distance from any roadway.”
The plaintiff, or agent, cannot “disturb” the personal property for 48 hours after it has been removed pursuant to the procedure just described. The plaintiff, or designated representative, is authorized to discard any remaining personal property after the 48-hour period. The same 48-hour time period applies to the city, county, or other local government/municipality that has jurisdiction, meaning that any action it would normally otherwise be able to take, as to the personal property, is temporarily suspended during this time period.
As important as the process and procedure for lockouts, the law also provides that the local government body, including the sheriff’s department, will not be liable for any damages to the defendant’s personal property during or after the 48-hour period. The same insulation from liability will be provided to the plaintiff or designated representative of the plaintiff, provided that damages did not result from a malicious act, or omission, of the plaintiff or its representative.
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