The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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What Must the Warrant State?

Reference Number: MTAS-1086
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: December 23, 2016
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After finding that probable cause exists, the city has jurisdiction through its codes and the city is not acting arbitrarily in seeking the warrant, the judge issues a warrant, which must contain the following information:

(e) All warrants must include at least the following:
(1) The name of the agency and building official requesting the warrant;
(2) The statutory or regulatory authority for the inspection;
(3) The names of the building official or officials authorized to conduct the administrative inspection;
(4) A reasonable description of the property and items to be inspected;
(5) A brief description of the purposes of the inspection; and
(6) Any other requirements or particularity required by the constitutions of the United States and the state of Tennessee regarding administrative inspections. T.C.A. § 68-120-117(e).

The above requirements are clear with the possible exception of items (2), (5) and (6). The authority for the city to conduct the inspection, in requirement (2), will be found in the building codes, fire codes and other uniform codes adopted by the city that the official believes are being violated on the property. The purpose of the inspection, in requirement (5), will generally be to protect public health, safety and welfare, as that is the reason local governments adopt codes. The warrant should state, with as much specificity as practical, the violations that the building official believes exist on the property. The requirement found in subsection (6) was apparently added by the General Assembly to prevent appellate court judges from invalidating the statute, just in case the proof required by the law does not fully satisfy constitutional requirements. It appears the proof required in subparagraphs (1) through (5) covers the waterfront, and no additional evidence will be necessary to satisfy rights granted to property owners by the federal and state constitutions.

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