Major Code Violations
The Shelby County Environmental Court hears a variety of cases related to quality of life in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. These types of cases arise out of the City of Memphis Code of Ordinances, the Shelby County Code of Ordinances, and the Tennessee Code.
Cases brought under City of Memphis Ordinance:
Housing Code Violations are brought by Housing Code Enforcement and deal with residential properties that do not meet the minimum standards set for the health and safety of the both residents and neighbors. Such properties may be in a state of disrepair or may have an accumulation of trash and debris, among other potential violations. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 48-1.
Fire Code Violations are brought by the Fire Department Anti-Neglect Department and generally involve commercial structures that are in danger of collapse or otherwise present fire hazards. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 48-215.
Health Code Violations are brought by the Health Department and involve problems related to rat and mosquito harborage (including old tires and accumulated junk), tuberculosis and other infectious disease control, sewage outcroppings, defective plumbing, and violations related to improper food preparation. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 16.
Animal Code Violations are brought by Memphis Animal Services and involve violations related to licensing and vaccinations of animals, cruelty to animals, dangerous dog declarations, and animals running at large. See Memphis Ordinance Code § 5.
Memphis Police Department and Citizen Initiated Violations are brought by police officers and citizens under Memphis Ordinance Code § 16-492, which permits the police and/or citizens willing to appear as witnesses to cite persons to court for littering, nuisances, or urban blight.
Cases brought under Shelby County Ordinance:
Construction and Zoning Code Violations are brought by Shelby County Code Enforcement and include businesses operating without proper license and inspection certificates, illegal sign violations (including advertising and political signs), defective and/or unpermitted additions to houses or businesses, and activities prohibited in certain zones, such as auto repair in a residential zone. See Shelby County Ordinance Code Appendix A.
Traffic Violations are brought by Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputies. Any traffic citation issued by a Sheriff’s Deputy is sent to the Environmental Court. See Shelby County Ordinance Code § 20. In 2009, the Court heard over 40,000 traffic violations.
Sheriff’s Department and Citizen Initiated Violations are brought under Shelby County Ordinance Code § 28-82, which permits sheriff’s deputies and/or citizens willing to appear as witnesses to cite persons to court for littering, nuisances, or urban blight.
Cases brought under Tennessee Code:
Nuisances under TCA § 29-3-101 are civil actions brought by the District Attorney General’s office in conjunction with the police and sheriff's departments. These cases involve businesses, residences, and apartment complexes where enough illegal activities are going on for the Court to declare them a public nuisance. Upon doing so, the property may be shut down until such time as the owner can assure that the illegal activities will cease.
Neighborhood Preservation Actions under TCA § 13-6-101 are civil actions whereby an interested party may sue the owner of a vacant property that is in such a state that it is a blighting influence on neighboring properties. These actions may be for damages in the amount the neighboring property’s value is diminished by the blighted property, or for an order to have the property brought into compliance with the standards set by the Memphis Code. If the property owner cannot or will not bring the property up to the standard, the Court may appoint a receiver to bring the property into compliance.
Offense of Littering is a criminal violation under TCA § 13-14-501 and the Shelby County Environmental Court has exclusive jurisdiction over these cases in Shelby County.
Wildlife Code Violations are Tennessee Criminal Violations brought by officers of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These cases include hunting, boating, and fishing violations. See TCA § 70.