Should Your Association Allow Garage Sales? By Rachel M. Kuhn, Esq.

Spring is finally here, which means summer is right around the corner, bringing with it the opening of association swimming pools, more frequent visits from the association’s landscaper, members spending more time outdoors, and…garage sales!

While garage sales may seem like a harmless tradition, and a form of weekend entertainment, they may not always be a good idea for your association. Before your board considers hosting a community-wide garage sale, or grants an owner permission to host one, there are factors that could make them problematic for your association. Here are some important points to consider:

1.         Review Governing Documents: Many Declarations include restrictions on any type of business or trade, and some even prohibit activities for profit. These provisions apply to garage sales, whether conducted by individual unit owners or sponsored by the association. It is essential to review your association’s documents before approving such events.

2.         Liability and Insurance Concerns: Garage sales bring an influx of people and vehicles into the association, which raises liability and insurance-related concerns. Under premises liability law, those who are invited onto the property for business purposes, such as shopping at a garage sale, are considered invitees and owed the highest standard of care. If someone gets injured due to a hazardous condition on association property, insurance claims may arise, and the association may be left responsible for defending the claims and paying damages from its own funds.

3.         Security Risks: Garage sales can attract potential criminals who use the opportunity to survey properties for theft or other crimes. Increased traffic during garage sales allows them to assess houses for security systems, piles of mail, or unattended packages. Prohibiting garage sales helps maintain the safety and security of the property and protects all owners.

Considering these factors, it may be wise to prohibit garage sales in your community. While it would be ideal for owners to always request permission before hosting a garage sale, it is important to acknowledge that we do not live in a perfect world. You could consider including a friendly reminder in your next newsletter, informing owners that garage sales are not permitted in your community.


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