Tennessee Auction Law

Tennessee is the only state with four “E’s” in its name. Other than that, it’s known for its beauty, its mountains, and its charming people. This state is a home for some of the most successful auction houses there is in America. Their auction laws are quite straightforward and easy to comprehend.

State Auctioneer Commission

There is created in the division of regulatory boards the Tennessee auctioneer commission for issuing licenses to auctioneers and apprentice auctioneers engaged in the auction business. Four members of the commission shall be auctioneers. Each member shall have been actively and principally engaged as a licensed auctioneer for a period of no less than five years preceding the appointment, shall be of recognized standing in the member’s branch of the auction business and shall be at least thirty years of age and of good moral character.  

All members of the commission shall be appointed by the governor. In making appointments to the commission, the governor shall strive to ensure that at least one (1) person serving on the commission is sixty years of age or older and that at least one (1) person serving on the commission is a member of a racial minority. 


Any individual who desires a license as an apprentice auctioneer shall submit an application to the commission on the prescribed form. The application shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable examination fee as set by the commission and satisfactory proof that the applicant has reach at least 18 years of age. Successfully completed eighty hours of classroom or online instruction in the fundamentals of auctioneering at an auction school accredited by the commission. Obtained a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED).

Any applicant who fails an examination must pay a fee as set by the commission for each reexamination. The commission shall issue to a qualified applicant a license and pocket card upon receipt of the appropriate fee as set by the commission. The license shall be conspicuously displayed at all times in the office of the licensee.  

Any person currently holding a valid auctioneer firm license may renew the license by filing an application for renewal and paying the required fee before the expiration date of the firm license.  If the applicant for a firm license maintains more than one place of business within the state, the applicant shall apply for and obtain an additional firm license for each branch office. 

A firm license shall automatically be suspended if no licensed auctioneer is engaged in business in the firm. The license may be reinstated by the commission for the unexpired term upon proof that a duly licensed auctioneer has been affiliated with the firm. 

Suspension, Revocation or Denial of License

The commission may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew any license issued under this chapter where the license has been obtained by false or fraudulent representations or for any of the following causes: 

  • Making any substantial misrepresentation.
  • Pursuing a continued and flagrant course of misrepresentation or making false promises through agents or advertising or otherwise
  • Accepting valuable consideration as an apprentice auctioneer for the performance of any of the acts specified in this chapter, from any person, except the licensee’s employer auctioneer.
  • Failing to account for or remit, within a reasonable time, any money belonging to others that comes into the licensee’s possession, commingling funds of others with the licensee’s own or failing to keep the funds of others in an escrow or trustee account; provided, however, that nothing in this section shall be construed to require an auto auction as defined to maintain or use an escrow account when the auction does not accept and deposit funds of others.
  • Paying valuable consideration to any person for services performed in violation of this law.
  • Being convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction of this or any other state, or of the United States, of a criminal offense involving moral turpitude or a felony.
  • Failing to furnish voluntarily to all interested parties, at the time of execution, copies of all written instruments prepared by the auctioneer or apprentice auctioneer.
  • Failing prior to the sale at public auction to enter into a written contract with the owner or consignee of any property to be sold, containing the terms and conditions upon which the licensee receives the property for sale.

Education and Recovery Account

There is established within the general fund an auctioneer education and recovery account, referred to as the “account” in this section. All funds received by the commission under this section shall be deposited into the account and held solely for the purposes of this section. The commission shall maintain a minimum balance of one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) in the account. 

No new auctioneer apprentice auctioneer or firm license shall be issued unless the applicant pays, in addition to the license fee, a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) or a lesser amount that the commission may by rule establish for deposit into the account. 

No renewal auctioneer apprentice auctioneer or firm license shall be issued unless the applicant pays, in addition to the renewal fee, a fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) or a lesser amount that the commission may by rule establish for the purpose of ensuring that the required minimum balance is maintained in the account. The liability of the account shall not exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per transaction, regardless of the number of persons aggrieved

The liability of the account for the acts of a licensee, when acting as such, shall be terminated upon the issuance of court orders authorizing payments from the account for judgments, or any unsatisfied portion of judgments, in an aggregate amount of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) on behalf of the licensee. A licensee acting as such shall have no claim against the account and a bonding company not involved in an auction shall have no claim against the account.

When any aggrieved person commences an action for a judgment that may result in collection from the account, the person shall promptly notify the commission to this effect in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested. The commission may, subject to the approval of the attorney general and reporter, take any action it may deem appropriate to protect the integrity of the account.

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