Make some cash and declutter at the same time.
Make some cash and declutter at the same time. Jim Jurca

Garage sale dos and don'ts: Signs, fines, footpaths

GARAGE sales: great for de-cluttering and earning some extra cash, good for bargain-hunters, slightly inconvenient for neighbours and, it turns out, sometimes problematic for authorities.

As residents in the Northern Rivers prepare for the expense of gift-giving in the summer holiday period, Byron Shire Council announced a "crack down on footpath garage sales.”

So The Northern Star checked in with all five councils across the Northern Rivers to compile a quick guide for readers on regulations and expectations governing garage sales in the region.

Some key points to consider (not always included in local government website information) include:

  • Signage: where, when and how much
  • Noise: what sort of noise is considered "nuisance” and at what times of day
  • Property: where does your private property start and end
  • Public liability: what happens if someone is injured at your garage sale.

Lismore City Council

Residents in Lismore have little to worry about when deciding to host a garage sale as a spokeswoman told The Northern Star: "Lismore City Council does not have a policy on garage sales!”.

When asked what advice the council would offer to residents planning a sale, the spokeswoman said: "We would probably just tell them to be respectful of neighbours and take down signage when it's over”.

Richmond Valley Council

Anyone living in Casino, Evans Head or elsewhere in the Richmond Valley shire is allowed to host a garage sale but must beware of rules on signage.

"It is fine to put up a sign, but a maximum of just two signs: one at your property and another at the nearest cross street,” said information on the council's web site.

"If that cross street is a roundabout, make sure the sign is NOT on the roundabout or in any place that distracts motorists or their line of sight.

"The sign must NOT be larger than 30cm x 42cm or A3 size.

"The signs can only go up on the morning of the sale and must be removed immediately after the sale is over.

"Signs should NOT be placed on power poles or trees with nails and screws.

"Signs should NOT be dangerous or obstruct pedestrians.”

Anyone could breaking rules on signage was liable to receive a fine.

Kyogle Council

"As long as garage sales are held on private property Council doesn't have any issue,” said a spokesperson from Kyogle Council.

"Council hasn't received any complaints.”

The spokesperson said while the council had no specific policy on garage sales, it did have a policy on signage.

"Basically no signs are supposed to be erected on road reserve without council approval,” said the spokesperson.

"But we're pretty lenient, unless it's creating a nuisance or a safety hazard and we do like people to take them down afterwards.”

Ballina Council

"All our signage policy comes under our chapter on general signage,” said manager of public and environmental health, Kerri Watts.

"And garage sale signs are prohibited in a public place.”

Ms Watts said the policy had been in place for between five and 10 years and was working well.

"There is a $330 fine but we haven't issued any,” she said.

"If people want to put a sign regarding 'garage sale here today' and it's on their private property we take no action but if they place it out on public land (street signs, roundabouts, on footpath) the rangers take it down.”

Ms Watts said Council policy on signage was designed to create consistency for commercial business owners who weren't allowed to display signage on public property and to improve community safety.

She said noise restrictions prohibited certain sounds before 8 am on weekdays and 7 am on weekends, including noise from lawnmowers and other loud machinery - residents wanting a smooth lawn for their sale would have to prepare in advance.

Byron Shire Council

Despite Council's recent "crackdown”, residents in the shire are welcome to host garage sales.

"You do not need to apply for a permit to hold a garage sale on your property,” said the council's press release.

"Just ensure the sale is inside your property boundary.

"Penalties for setting up a garage sale on roadside verge or street corner could see an on the spot fine of between $110 and $3000 being issued.

"All advertising signs should be placed within the boundaries of your property and not on the footpath, power poles, trees or at street corners.

"You must ensure that they do not encroach on to the footpath area.”



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