Tennessee REALTORS® advocates for private property rights on behalf of home buyers, sellers, and property owners and supports the vibrant communities where we live and work.

RPAC, or the REALTORS® Political Action Committee, is one of the most bipartisan political action committees in the country. RPAC exists to champion private property rights, ensure state and local elected officials understand the important role of property ownership in Tennessee and support candidates who advocate for pro-private property and homeownership policies regardless of party affiliation.

RPAC is one of the few trade associations that advocates on behalf of all Tennesseans fully understanding the importance of the American dream of homeownership and the impact of real estate in the economy.

Here is a look at some of the ways Tennessee REALTORS® is advocating for YOU.

No State Property Tax

Tennessee is one of the most affordable states to live in, one of the contributing factors is that Tennessee has no state property tax. Tennessee REALTORS® fought to prohibit the taxation of property by the State.

Preventing Real Estate Fraud

Scammers are always looking for the next best way to lure victims, including real estate fraud. Tennessee REALTORS® advocated for the Real Estate Fraud Study: SB2448/HB2215 which required the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) to conduct a survey and compile a report on real estate fraud in Tennessee. The purpose of this study is to protect homeowners in Tennessee by investigating the prevalence of real estate fraud in Tennessee, the schemes and tactics used to scam homeowners, and the best practices for local government officials in registering documents related to real estate transactions. This report is designed to reduce the risk of real estate fraud for property owners in Tennessee.

Anti Squatter Legislation

In some states, squatters have more rights than property owners, resulting in a lengthy and costly process to regain access to their property. Tennessee REALTORS® fought to establish a process by which a property owner may file a complaint to request the sheriff remove an unlawful occupant of a residential dwelling under certain conditions. This legislation includes checks and balances to ensure proper procedure is followed for the safety and consideration of all parties.

Private property rights may look different from person to person and family to family but Tennessee REALTORS® advocates for all private property rights, here is just one recent example of a significant win for all private landowners in Tennessee, especially owners of large tracts of land in rural areas.

     On May 9, 2024, The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion in the Rainwaters v. TWRA case.  This is a case Tennessee REALTORS® has been following for several years regarding property rights in Tennessee. Tennessee REALTORS® joined an amicus brief with NAR and REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) and we are happy to see that many of the arguments made in our brief made it into the Court’s opinion.

Two Benton County men, Hunter Hollingsworth and Terry Rainwaters, filed suit after finding trail cameras on their farms that they did not install.  Officers of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (“TWRA”) entered onto the Plaintiffs’ properties on multiple occasions and installed trail cameras without a warrant or consent.  The plaintiffs asserted the state statute TWRA relied on to engage in the acts of entering private property to find potential violations of hunting, fishing and wildlife laws without seeking permission from a judge or property owner and which required no supervisor approval was unconstitutional on its face and as applied.

The Court of Appeals determined that this statute was unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs’ land, which they use for farming and recreation, protected by gates and no-trespassing signs.
The Opinion stated, “The TWRA searches, which it claims are reasonable, bear a marked resemblance to the arbitrary discretionary entries of customs officials more than two centuries ago in colonial Boston….. The TWRA’s contention is a disturbing assertion of power on behalf of the government that stands contrary to the foundations of the search protections against arbitrary governmental intrusions in the American legal tradition, generally, and in Tennessee, specifically.” This is a significant win for all private landowners in Tennessee, especially owners of large tracts of land in rural areas.

Key Points:
The Court held “When considering uses of real property other than as a home, there is nothing in the Tennessee Constitution that suggests a lesser regard for uses of property more common in rural areas than those more typical of urban or suburban areas. The key is actual use, and the Tennessee Constitution does not disfavor actual uses more commonly associated with rural areas.”
When determining “actual use,” the court said that the plaintiffs were relying on “visible actions of actual possession and occupation of the property, that is, engaging in entry and acts of ownership thereupon.”  These activities included “farming, fishing, camping, and hunting,” and the land was “secured by gates, accessible only through private drives, and posted with “no trespassing” signs intended to limit access to them.”
The ruling does not apply to privately-owned acreages that are left wild and unused — land the U.S. Supreme Court has dubbed “wild or waste lands” and concluded in a so-called “open fields doctrine” are not subject to traditional search and seizure Constitutional protections. The open fields doctrine has long allowed law enforcement to enter such properties without a warrant.