Libertarian Legal Groups Challenge Nashville's Lingering Home Business Ban | Nashville Public Radio

Libertarian Legal Groups Challenge Nashville's Lingering Home Business Ban

Dec 5, 2017

A team of attorneys is challenging a Metro Nashville law that prohibits residents from operating certain businesses in their homes.

The new lawsuit was filed on behalf of two people who say their home businesses were hurt after the city received anonymous complaints.

The claimants and their attorneys are concerned that under the current home business ban, anyone with a personal vendetta or competing business can wield the Metro Code Department’s anonymous reporting system like a weapon. 

Technically illegal businesses like Lij Shaw’s home recording studio are easy targets.

“To be completely shut down by the city and have to move and come up with some whole new plan at a point in my life when I need to be more settled in would be devastating for me," says Shaw.

One of the two claimants in the lawsuit, Shaw says an anonymous complaint filed with the city brought Codes agents to his doorstep, who told him he could no longer publish his address in advertisements. Shaw, who has lived in East Nashville for the last 17 years, doesn’t know who reported him.

“It’s filed through a website," says Shaw. "I have no idea who filed the complaint. In fact, I have never had a complaint from any of my neighbors about anything with my home studio.”

Shaw had 40 of his neighbors sign a petition to help him rezone his property for business, but Metro Council rejected it.

This is the first time private citizens have challenged the law that prevents home businesses from seeing clients on their property. The Institute for Justice, which filed the lawsuit along with the Beacon Center on Tuesday, says around 1,600 home businesses in Nashville are operating in spite of the law.