KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Families looking for a home to rent in Knoxville are facing incredible challenges. Between rising rents and a low supply, some don't know where they will live. In Mechanicsville, 12 families received notices that they would need to navigate the market soon.
"That was very low of them to do that," said Brandi Ross, a resident of an apartment complex on Mechanics Way.
She said her and many others received notices that they would need to permanently leave their homes by October or face eviction. The document said they were being forced to leave so some new property managers could renovate their units.
Guiney Sherrod said she lived in the apartments for more than 10 years. Her lease ends in November, but she said property managers asked her to start the lease renewal process early. She said it was heartbreaking to be forced to uproot their lives for renovations.
"You don't change schools when your child is in the 10th grade," said Ross.
Sheri Hopson said she lived in the apartments for around 14 years. She lives with her grandchildren.
"It's been hard on them, losing all their friends and everything," she said. "It's bureaucratic. It's owners that are doing this to everybody, in Knoxville and in Tennessee."
A lawyer said even though the residents were not expecting to be forced to leave, it's still legal for them to be kicked out like this.
"Whether it's ethical or not doesn't make it illegal," said T. Scott Jones. "When you don't have a lot of vacancies you can say, 'Hey, you know the rent's what it is. If you don't want it, somebody else will come down the street and take it.'"
The new property managers, Brick and Mortar Properties, did not comment on this story.
Jones said tenants should always make sure to read their lease and ensure they are not signing any rights away, just in case they encounter an issue in the future. No matter what, tenants should also make sure never to stop paying rent and to always document maintenance issues with their apartment.
Tenants who need a lawyer can reach out to free legal aid services for help, like Legal Aid of East Tennessee.