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Miscellaneous Business Regulations

Reference Number: MTAS-84
Reviewed Date: 09/26/2023

Antiques Dealers’ Records
Antiques dealers are required to keep records containing specified information for any item they purchase "exceeding the value of $50" and to preserve (no time period is specified, so presumably permanently) such records for inspection at any time by any city or county police officer. T.C.A. § 62-22-101. Dealers in antique, used, or scrap jewelry and precious metals are required to register with the police chief and sheriff. T.C.A. §§ 38-1-201, et seq.

Cities may adopt state provisions regulating pawnbrokers and other regulations they "may deem right and proper." T.C.A. § 45-6-219. Cities may not regulate interest, fees, insurance charges, hours, types of pawn transactions, or license requirements, nor may cities make requirements other than those under the state statutes. A law enforcement official of a city may not charge a pawnbroker for receiving or processing daily reports or pawn tickets or any other information required by the law enforcement official. A pawnbroker is required to have a computer system in operation that is capable of electronically transferring information regarding pledged goods to a requesting law enforcement agency. T.C.A. § 45-6-221. The state code intimates that even though a city may not license pawnbrokers, a city may suspend or revoke a pawnbroker’s license if the owner, major stockholder, or managing partner is convicted of violating the state statute. Upon request, pawnbrokers must furnish law enforcement agencies with the names of suppliers from whom they bought merchandise for resale. T.C.A. § 45-6-216. Pawn shop operators in Knox and Shelby counties must obtain the thumbprint or fingerprint of the pledger. T.C.A. § 45-6-209.

Closing-out Sales
A city may elect to regulate "going-out-of-business" sales by requiring licenses and verifying the authenticity of such sales. T.C.A. §§ 6-55-401–413. Failing to comply with municipal regulations of liquidation sales is an unfair or deceptive trade practice under T.C.A. § 47-18-104.

Fire and Burglar Alarms
The Alarm Contractors Licensing Act of 1991 (T.C.A. §§ 62-32-301, et seq.) prohibits municipalities and counties from offering services as an alarm system contractor except for facilities wholly owned by the municipality or county. As set forth in T.C.A. § 62-32-321, municipalities may provide monitoring and response service to alarm systems if

  • no charge is made for the service;
  • using the local government service is not mandatory; and
  • response by law enforcement officials, firefighters, and other emergency personnel is not conditioned on using the service.

No municipality may enact any regulations relating to licensing alarm businesses after July 1, 1993. Any municipal regulation requiring certification or licensing of alarm businesses or their employees is superseded.

A municipality may impose a fine not exceeding $50 for each false alarm unless the false alarm is due exclusively to a violent act of nature.

A municipality may require alarm businesses and agents to register their names, addresses, and license certificate numbers. A city may not impose a fee or require an application for this registration.

Fire Extinguisher Firms
Regulating fire extinguisher firms is exclusively a state function except that a municipality may require permits for installing fire extinguisher systems and require that the installation of such systems conform to applicable building codes and requirements. T.C.A. § 62-32-213.

Restrictions have been imposed on junkyards located within 1,000 feet of an interstate or primary highway. They are enforced and implemented by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. "Junkyard" is defined to include a place where 10 or more abandoned motor vehicles are stored and any place that stores, buys, or sells junk. T.C.A. §§ 54-20-101, et seq. but it does not include recycling centers as defined in T.C.A. § 54-20-103 or solid waste facilities registered under T.C.A. § 68-211-106. Otherwise, the definition of "junk" includes a wide variety of materials. A municipality is empowered to enforce regulations at least as stringent as those established under this statute for city streets that are in the state highway system. T.C.A. §§ 54-20-101, et seq.

Automobile Graveyards
For city streets that are not a part of the state highway system, a municipality is empowered by ordinance to license and regulate "any lot or place which is exposed to the weather" where more than five motor vehicles, not economically practical to make operative, are located. T.C.A. § 7-51-701.

Regulation of Taxicabs and Similar Vehicles
Municipalities are empowered to license, control, and regulate taxicabs by ordinance or resolution. The statute outlines the scope of this authority and extends to a municipality the full extent of antitrust immunity accorded to the state as sovereign under state and federal laws. Governmental entities in a county of 287,700 to 287,800 (Hamilton County) are exempted from this law. Governmental entities may regulate limousine, sedan, shuttle, and taxicab services. T.C.A. §§ 7-51-1001–1007. T.C.A. § 6-54-128 requires a criminal records check on cab drivers through the TBI and FBI by municipalities in counties with over 100,000 population that choose to license and regulate persons operating vehicles for hire and disqualify those convicted of specified crimes. Municipalities are not permitted to regulate transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft. T.C.A. § 65-15-302.

Regulation of Towing or Wrecker Companies
Federal law (49 U.S.C. § 14501(c)) restricts municipal regulation of towing and wrecker companies. Under the noted federal statute, which deregulated the motor carrier industry, including towing companies, it appears that municipalities may do only the following relative to towing and wrecker companies:

  • Regulate the price of non-consensual tows;
  • Establish standards for towing businesses that perform work for the city itself as a market participant; and
  • Regulate safety aspects of the towing business where this authority is delegated by the state.

All other business regulation of towing companies appears to be pre-empted. See Petrey v. City of Toledo, 246 F. 3d 548 (6th Cir. 2001) and City of Columbus v. Ours Garage and Wrecker Service, 122 S. Ct. 2226 (2002).

False Claims
T.C.A. §§ 4-18-101, et seq., make any person or entity that makes a false or fraudulent claim against the state or any municipality liable for three times the amount of damages. In addition, the person or entity is liable for court costs of a civil action to recover these damages and for a civil penalty of not less than $2,500 nor more than $10,000.

Manufactured Homes
State law provisions regulating the installation of manufactured homes pre-empt any local ordinances that regulate their installation. T.C.A. § 68-126-412.

Price Gouging During States of Emergency
T.C.A. §§ 47-18-5101, et seq., and T.C.A. § 47-18-104 make it unlawful for businesses to charge excessive prices for essential goods during states of emergency. Local ordinances prohibiting and penalizing similar conduct are not pre-empted, but ordinances may not imposed more severe penalties.

Limited License Plumbers
State law regulates limited license plumbers (plumbers who do plumbing work at a total cost of less than $25,000). T.C.A. §§ 62-6-401, et. seq. Municipalities may have stricter testing and experience requirements. The state law also makes other allowances for local regulation of these plumbers. The state law apparently does not apply in the 24th and 25th senatorial districts. T.C.A. § 62-6-416.

Sport Shooting Ranges
Owners, operators, and users of a sport shooting range are granted protection from nuisance and other types of liability not involving bodily injury when the range complied with noise control ordinances in effect at the time the range began operation. For ranges that opened for operation after July 1, 2004, this protection from nuisance liability does not apply until one year after the range begins operation. T.C.A. § 39-17-316.

Charitable Gaming
Municipalities may not regulate charitable gaming. T.C.A. § 3-17-112 and T.C.A. § 39-17-659.

Tax Refund Loan Businesses
Municipalities may not regulate tax refund loan businesses. T.C.A. § 62-29-204.

Home Improvement Contractors
Home improvement contractors are regulated in T.C.A. Title 62, Chapter 6, Part 5. A municipality may not require that any person obtain an additional authorization or license to transact a home improvement business; however, a municipality is not prohibited from requiring licenses for persons performing plumbing work, electrical work or gas and mechanical work. T.C.A. § 62-6-503. Except for a permit for any home improvement work to be performed by the owner of property, a municipality may not issue a permit for any home improvement work unless the permit lists each contractor's home improvement license number. T.C.A. § 62-6-503(d).

Scrap Metal Dealers
T.C.A. §§ 62-9-101–114 regulate scrap metal dealers at the state level. T.C.A. § 62-9-105 authorizes local law enforcement officers to inspect scrap metals purchased by and the records of these dealers during usual business hours, but a warrant may be required. Under T.C.A. § 62-9-111, local governments, landfills, and solid waste processing facilities may sell any scrap metal lawfully attained by them. Payment to the governmental entity must be by check or money order and must be mailed. In addition, a governmental entity may register as a scrap metal dealer.

Posting of Nutritional Information
T.C.A. § 68-14-704 prohibits a non-elected body or any municipality, county or metropolitan government from enacting any legislation, rule or regulation pertaining to food safety or the provision of nutritional information or menu of any food service establishment.

Appraisal Management Companies
Persons and companies engaged in appraisal management are regulated by T.C.A. Title 62, Chapter 39, Part 4. Banks, savings and loan institutions, licensed attorneys, licensed accountants or state and local governments who order appraisals for tax purposes are exempt from the act. T.C.A. § 62-39-404.