2010 Tennessee Code
Title 29 - Remedies And Special Proceedings
Chapter 18 - Forcible Entry and Detainer
29-18-115 - Method of serving summons.

29-18-115. Method of serving summons.

(a)  (1)  In commencing an action under the provisions of this chapter, summons may be served upon any adult person found in possession of the premises; and service of process upon such party in possession shall be good and sufficient to enable the landlord to regain possession of such landlord's property. In the event the summons cannot be served upon any adult person found in possession of the premises, personal service of process on the defendant is dispensed with in the following cases:

          (A)  When the defendant is a nonresident of this state;

          (B)  When, upon inquiry at the defendant's usual place of abode, the defendant cannot be found, so as to be served with process, and there is just ground to believe that the defendant has gone beyond the limits of the state;

          (C)  When the summons has been returned “not to be found in my county”;

          (D)  When the name of the defendant is unknown and cannot be ascertained upon diligent inquiry;

          (E)  When the residence of the defendant is unknown and cannot be ascertained upon diligent inquiry; or

          (F)  When a domestic corporation has ceased to do business and has no known officers, directors, trustee, or other legal representatives, on whom personal service may be had.

     (2)  In those cases specified in subdivision (a)(1), where personal service of process on the defendant is dispensed with, the proceeding shall be governed by §§ 21-1-203 21-1-205, and in addition thereto, the plaintiff shall post or cause to be posted on the front door or other front portion of the premises a copy of the publication notice at least fifteen (15) days prior to the date specified therein for the defendant to appear and make a defense.

(b)  In commencing an action under the provisions of this chapter, service of process may be made by the plaintiff, the plaintiff's attorney, or the plaintiff's agent, in lieu of subsection (a), by lodging the original summons and a copy certified by the clerk with the sheriff of the county in which suit is brought, who shall promptly send postage prepaid a certified copy by certified return receipt mail to the individual as follows:

     (1)  In the case of an individual defendant, to the party named;

     (2)  In the case of a domestic corporation or a foreign corporation doing business in this state, to an officer or managing agent thereof, or to the chief agent in the county where the action is brought or to any other agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the corporation; or

     (3)  In the case of a partnership or an unincorporated association which is a named defendant under a common name, to a partner or managing agent of the partnership or to an officer or managing agent of the association, or to an agent authorized by appointment or by law to receive service on behalf of the partnership or association.

(c)  In any case in which such warrant or process is returned undelivered for any reason whatsoever, service of process shall then be made as otherwise provided by law.

(d)  (1)  The original process, endorsed as indicated below, an affidavit of the appropriate sheriff setting forth the sheriff's compliance with the requirements of the preceding provisions, and the return receipt signed by the defendant shall be attached together and sent to and filed by the clerk of the court of general sessions. There shall be endorsed on the original warrant by the sheriff over the sheriff's signature the date of the sheriff's mailing the certified copy to the defendant; thereupon service of the defendant shall be consummated. An act of a deputy of the sheriff in the sheriff's behalf hereunder shall be deemed the equivalent of the act of the latter.

     (2)  When service of process by mail is made upon one (1) or more individual defendants, service of process shall not be complete as to any individual unless a return receipt, signed or acknowledged on its face by the individual personally, is returned to the deputy sheriff.

(e)  (1)  In addition to the methods set out in this section, service of process for an action commenced under this chapter shall be good and sufficient to enable the landlord to regain possession of such landlord's property if the sheriff of the county in which the action is brought, or such sheriff's deputy, personally serves a copy of the warrant or summons upon any named defendant who has a contractual or possessory property right in the subject premises.

     (2)  If the sheriff is unable to serve any such named defendant personally, or if after three (3) attempts of personal service of process during a ten-day period with such attempts being documented on the face of the warrant, no such person is found in possession of the premises, service of process for determining the right of possession of the subject premises as to all who may have a contractual or possessory property right therein may be had by the sheriff of the county, or such sheriff's deputy, taking the following actions at least ten (10) days prior to the date specified therein for the defendant or defendants to appear and make a defense:

          (A)  Posting a copy of the warrant or summons on the door of the premises;

          (B)  Sending by United States postal service first class mail with certificate of mailing a copy of the warrant or summons to the so named defendant or defendants at the last known address, if any; and

          (C)  Making an entry of this action on the face of the warrant or summons filed in the case.

The method of service of process provided for in this subdivision shall be used only after the defendant who has a contractual or possessory property right in the subject premises is more than ten (10) days past due on rental installment payments or has held over after expiration of proper notice of termination of tenancy for more than ten (10) days. The provisions of this subdivision shall apply only to the service of process in an action brought to regain possession of real property, and shall not apply to the service of process in any action seeking monetary judgment.

[Acts 1869-1870, ch. 64, § 6; Shan., § 5127; Code 1932, § 9282; Acts 1945, ch. 79, § 1; C. Supp. 1950, § 9282; Acts 1979, ch. 420, § 1; 1980, ch. 798, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 23-1615; Acts 1997, ch. 380, § 1.]  

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