The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Lot Cleanup

Reference Number: MTAS-89
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: December 23, 2016
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Cities may require owners to clean up the property where trees, vines, grass, and brush are growing, or trash and debris are accumulating, so as to endanger health and safety or encourage the infestation of rats or other harmful animals.  Notice shall be provided to the owner to remedy the condition via US mail. The notice shall also state that the owner is entitled to a hearing, as well as the following:

(1) A brief statement containing the consequences of failing to comply;

(2) The name and contact information of the city department or official;

(3) An estimated cost for remedying the noted conditions; and

(4) A place where the owner may notify the city indicating a desire for a hearing. 

When an attempt to use the US mail fails, or if there is no known address, a notice should be published for two consecutive days in a newspaper of general circulation within the county, or personally delivered to the owner.  If the owner fails to clean up within 10 days after receiving notice to do so, the city may clean up the lot and assess the costs against the owner. The costs may be collected by the city through an acton for debt filed in any court of competent jurisdiction.  The costs may also be collected with the lot’s property tax bill and filed as a lien on the property. The municipality must wait until cumulative charges equal or exceed $500 before placing a lien on owner-occupied residential property for the costs. A 20 day notice period shall be provided if the owner is a carrier engaged in the transportation of property or a utility transmitting communications, electricity, gas, liquids, steam, sewerage or other materials. T.C.A. § 6-54-113.

Responsible: