Is Operating a Business Out of Your Home Illegal in Nashville?
With over 1,600 home-based businesses operating in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, could it be true that many of them are illegal?¹ Section 17.16.250 of Title 17 of the Metropolitan Code of Laws that governs residential zoning ordinances contains a provision regarding “home occupations”.² The term home occupations refers to the practice of individuals operating small businesses from their residential homes. The provision prohibits the home occupations, or home businesses, from performing services for customers on their residential property. For many home businesses, customers and customer interaction are the sole source of profit. In “Music City,” a community full of artists, musicians, and other creative professionals, this ordinance presents several problems for those wanting to teach music and art or even to create music and art with other professionals in the industry.
This exact zoning ordinance presented an issue for a local Nashville music producer, Lij Shaw. Since 2015, Mr. Shaw has been in a battle with the City of Nashville to shut down the prosperous music studio located in his residential home. Mr. Shaw first received a letter from the city demanding his home music studio be closed and no longer open for business. Two years later, Mr. Shaw partnered with Pat Raynor, an individual running a hair salon out of her home and protested the residential zoning ordinance in court. The legal battle between Mr. Shaw and the City of Nashville was recently heard by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The decision of the Supreme Court of Tennessee will not be released for several months.