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Tennessee Contract for Deed Law

Contract for Deed – General – Tennessee


66-4-101. Execution by personal representative of deceased vendor.

In all cases of written agreements or contracts for the conveyance of land in this state, where the person executing the agreement or contract dies before final conveyance is made, the decedent’s personal representatives may execute the conveyance to the person with whom such agreement or contract was made, or the decedent’s heirs or assigns, according to the forms prescribed for the conveyance of real estate.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2025 (deriv. Acts 1794, ch. 5, § 1); Shan., § 3692; Code 1932, § 7614; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-401.

66-4-102. Registration of contract required.

The personal representative cannot be required to execute a conveyance under § 66-4-101, unless the written agreement or contract, duly registered, or a certified copy of the agreement or contract from the register’s books, is produced and delivered to the representative.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2028 (deriv. Acts 1794, ch. 5, § 1); Shan., § 3695; Code 1932, § 7617; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-402.

66-4-103. Deed by one of several representatives.

If there are several personal representatives, a deed by any of the representatives will be as valid as if executed by all.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2027 (deriv. Acts 1794, ch. 5, § 3); Shan., § 3694; Code 1932, § 7616; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-403.

66-4-104. Description of land used in deed.

In case the agreement or contract is for part of a tract of land, not ascertained by metes and bounds, the personal representative shall execute the conveyance according to the description given in the contract.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2029 (deriv. Acts 1794, ch. 5, § 4); Shan., § 3696; Code 1932, § 7618; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-404.

66-4-105. Execution of contract with personal representative.

If the person with whom such agreement or contract was made is also the personal representative, the court granting administration may appoint a guardian or representative of the heirs, who shall make the conveyance according to the written agreement.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2026 (deriv. Acts 1794, ch. 5, § 2); Shan., § 3693; Code 1932, § 7615; impl. am. Acts 1980, ch. 875, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-405.


66-5-103. Forms of conveyances.

The following or other equivalent forms, varied to suit the precise state of facts, are sufficient for the purposes contemplated, without further circumlocution:

(1) (A) For a deed in fee with general warranty: “I hereby convey to A. B. the following tract of land (describing it), and I warrant the title against all persons whomsoever;”

(B) Covenants of seisin, possession, and special warranty: “I covenant that I am seized and possessed of this land, and have a right to convey it, and I warrant the title against all persons claiming under me;”

(2) For a quitclaim deed: “I hereby quitclaim to A. B. all my interest in the following land” (describing it);

(3) For a mortgage: “I hereby convey to A. B. the following land (describing it), to be void upon condition that I pay,” etc; and

(4) For a deed of trust: “For the purpose of securing to A. B. a note of this date, due at twelve (12) months, with interest from date (or as the case may be), I hereby convey to C. D., in trust, the following property (describing it). And if the note is not paid at maturity, I hereby authorize C. D. to sell the property herein conveyed (stating the manner, place of sale, notice, etc.), to execute a deed to the purchaser, to pay off the amount herein secured, with interest and costs, and to hold the remainder subject to my order.”

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2013; Shan., § 3680; Code 1932, § 7607; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-502.

66-5-106. Authentication and registration required — Formal ceremonies unnecessary.

No deed of conveyance for lands, in whatever manner or form drawn, shall be good and available in law, as to strangers, unless it is acknowledged by the vendor, or proved by two (2) witnesses upon oath, in the manner prescribed in chapters 22 and 23 of this title, and registered by the register of the county where the land lies. All deeds so executed shall be valid and pass estates in land, or right to other estates, without livery of seisin, attornment, or other ceremony in the law whatever.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 2005 (deriv. Acts 1715, ch. 38, § 5); Shan., § 3671; Code 1932, § 7596; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-504.

66-5-107. Correction of errors.

(a) Whenever an error or mistake is made in any deed of conveyance, or in the registration thereof, either in courses, distances, or names, the person liable to injury by such error or mistake may prefer a petition to the circuit court of the county in which the land is situated, setting forth the nature of the mistake or error, and all and singular the matters relative thereto.

(b) Before the petition shall be heard and determined, the petitioner shall advertise in a newspaper published in the judicial district in which the land is situated; and if no newspaper is published in the district, then in a newspaper in the adjoining district, setting forth the substance of the petition, and the term at which petitioner will make application for a hearing, three (3) weeks in succession, at least thirty (30) days before the petition shall be heard.

(c) The court may also direct written notice to be served upon such persons as may be interested in or affected by the relief sought, unless such notice shall appear to the court to have been previously given.

(d) When any person chooses to oppose the granting of the petition, that party may personally enter as a defendant, and, each party having given security for cost, the cause shall stand for hearing as other argument cases.

(e) The court shall examine such testimony as the petitioner may produce; and whenever it shall appear evident, from such testimony, that there was an error or mistake committed in drawing the deed of conveyance, the court shall order the same to be rectified, so as to comport with the intention of the parties; and shall further order the register of the county, in which the land is situated, to register the conveyance agreeably to the correction.

(f) Either party may appeal from the judgment of the court, or prosecute a writ of error thereto.

HISTORY: Code 1858, §§ 2014-2019 (deriv. Acts 1813, ch. 83, §§ 1-3); Shan., §§ 3681-3685; Code 1932, §§ 7608-7613; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), §§ 64-505 — 64-510.

66-5-109. Effective date of conveyance.

(a) The effective date of any conveyance of real property in this state is presumed to be the date of the instrument of conveyance, and shall not be affected by a notary acknowledgment in such conveyance which may be dated prior or subsequent to the date of the conveyance.

(b) (1) If an instrument conveying real property is not dated, but contains a notary acknowledgment which is dated, the effective date of the instrument shall be the date of the notary acknowledgment.

(2) If the instrument is not dated, but contains more than one (1) notary acknowledgment, containing more than one (1) date, the latest date of a notary acknowledgment in the instrument shall be the effective date of the instrument.

HISTORY: Acts 1989, ch. 483, §§ 1, 2.


66-10-101. Right to sell land for payment of vendor.

The vendor of land, as each payment of the purchase money becomes due, may bring an action to enforce such vendor’s lien as vendor, and may have so much of the land sold as may be necessary to pay the money then due.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 3563 (deriv. Acts 1857-1858, ch. 50, § 1); Shan., § 5326; Code 1932, § 8037; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-1002.

66-10-102. Jurisdiction to enforce against land.

The court of chancery has jurisdiction to enforce the vendor’s lien when the amount due is fifty dollars ($50.00) and over.

HISTORY: Code 1932, § 8041; Acts 1933, ch. 96, § 1; C. Supp. 1950, § 8041; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-1003.

66-10-103. Successive sales to meet installments.

The suit shall be retained in court, and, as each of the payments becomes due, the court shall direct a sufficient quantity of the land to be sold to satisfy the same.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 3564 (deriv. Acts 1857-1858, ch. 50, § 1); Shan., § 5327; Code 1932, § 8038; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-1004.

66-10-104. Sale of land as a whole.

If the land cannot be divided without material injury to the parties, or, if the vendee so direct, the court shall order it all to be sold at one (1) time, making the payments to fall due at such times as the purchaser has agreed to pay the vendor; and the money, as collected, shall be applied to the payment of the installments due the vendor.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 3565 (deriv. Acts 1857-1858, ch. 50, § 2); Shan., § 5328; mod. Code 1932, § 8039; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-1005.

66-10-105. Redemption.

Whether the land is all sold, or is sold in parcels, the defendant shall have the right of redemption, as in other cases.

HISTORY: Code 1858, § 3566 (deriv. Acts 1857-1858, ch. 50, § 3); Shan., § 5329; Code 1932, § 8040; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 64-1006.


Contracts to give a deed upon completion of payment of the purchase price are recognized in Tennessee. Their recordation is expressly authorized pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-24-101. Parties may stipulate in a contract for the sale of land that title shall be withheld until the performance of a further consideration. Price v. Taylor, 1984 Tenn.App.LEXIS 2879 (1984)

The equitable equivalent of a vendor’s lien is retained by the vendor for the balance of the purchase price in a contract for deed where possession is given to the vendee. An equitable lien is held by the vendor in the vendee’s equitable title in contracts as now under consideration. In cases where there is default in the payment of the purchase price by the vendee in a contract for deed, the vendor may seek possession of the property and damages through the Chancery Court because of the breach of the executory contract. If the vendor is unable to deliver title or if the contract was obtained through fraud, the vendee may seek rescission and damages. The “right of foreclosure” and the waiver of equity of redemption are matters that inure to the benefit of the vendor and their express absence in the contract constitutes no grounds for complaint by the vendee to void a contract. Price v. Taylor, 1984 Tenn.App.LEXIS 2879 (1984)

Inside Tennessee Contract for Deed Law