The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Slum Clearance

Reference Number: MTAS-91
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: October 18, 2017
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T.C.A. §§ 13-21-101, et seq., provide authority for municipalities to adopt ordinances relating to structures within the city that are unfit for human occupation or use. The statute requires that the ordinance designate a public officer to exercise the ordinance’s prescribed powers. Upon his or her own motion, a petition filed by five citizens, or the governing body’s request, this officer may serve the owner with a complaint and notice of a public hearing to be held not less than 10 days or more than 30 days from the date the complaint is served. Following the hearing, the officer may order the owner to either repair or demolish the structure.

If the owner fails to comply with the order, the officer may undertake the repair or demolition and assess those costs against the owner. The sum owed, upon being certified to the municipal tax collector, becomes a lien on the property. A notice of lien should also be filed with the register of deeds. The costs,which may include reasonable fees for registration, inspections, and professional evaluations in addition to the costs of repairs, alterations, improvements, vacating and closing, and removal or demolition,shall be collected by the municipal tax collector or county trustee at the same time and in the same manner as property taxes. These costs also may be collected in an action for debt filed in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Violation of an order to vacate a building that has been found unfit for human occupation or use is a Class B misdemeanor. Additionally, any owner, manager, or person responsible for a structure declared unfit for human occupation or use who authorizes or facilitates the occupancy of the structure commits a Class B misdemeanor.