Woman evicted after complaint doesn’t fit renter protection law

UPDATE: Darlene Thurman has dropped the lawsuit she filed against Mark Alexander, claiming mold in her home made her sick.

Alexander allowed Thurman to stay in the home he evicted her from until Wednesday, Jan. 22.


SAVANNAH, Tenn. — A tenant in Hardin County is being evicted after refusing to pay rent for what she thought was a good reason.

It could be affecting thousands of people, including you.

“I’m not the only one. It’s not only a setback for me. It’s a setback for every renter in the state of Tennessee,” said Darlene Thurman, a tenant being evicted from her home.

Thurman started renting the house a few months ago with a condition from her landlord.

Mark Alexander, the landlord, would fix the roof that was leaking and causing damage to the bathroom floor, which she agreed to fix herself.

“We deserve to have a clean and safe environment, free from mold, free from leaks,” Thurman said.

She said when Alexander didn’t fix the roof, she thought it was legal to stop paying her rent. Then, she got evicted, and her landlord sued for $1,000 back rent.

“Unfortunately, in your case, if you read further in those statutes, those statutes only apply to the larger counties in the state of Tennessee. I know it involves, Shelby, Davidson, Knox, and I think it’s extended to Madison. That’s the law in those counties, but unfortunately, the rural areas have different rules. I can’t explain to you why, other than that’s what the legislature, in their wisdom, decided to do,” said Hardin County General Sessions Court Judge Daniel Smith.

The law says because she lives in Hardin County, with fewer than 75,000 people, she would have either had to contact the Tennessee Consumer Affairs Division, or move out and later sue her landlord.

“I’m on disability. I have a set income of $783 a month. I cannot afford a deposit and rent on a new place,” Thurman said.

Now she still has to pay her rent.

“Your reason for not paying your rent, as you stated, involving the repairs not being done. That not being a defense in this case, and two months without paying your rent, it will be a judgement for possession, plus the back rent of $1,000,” Smith said.

Thurman has also filed a lawsuit against Alexander, claiming mold in the house led to Thurman getting sick.

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