Can a homeowners association board shut the door on garage sales?

Question: The homeowner association board at our town home development says garage sales are tacky and is threatening to make rules preventing owners from partaking in such sales. The association's covenants, conditions and restrictions are silent as to residents having garage sales.

There are many owners here who are finding it difficult to pay their monthly association dues and others who have fallen on very hard times; this is one of the ways they can raise enough money to carry on. We've asked the board to approve a yearly garage sale where all owners can participate but the board has slammed it down, saying garage sales make the development look cheap.

What are the laws for garage sales? Are owners entitled to have personal garage sales, and how can we convince the board to allow a yearly garage sale event?

Answer: Garage sales are generally permitted under Los Angeles County law; however, each city or unincorporated area has its own specific statutes, rules and regulations. For example, common restrictions may include days of the week a sale can be held and the permissible number of sales each resident is allowed a year. In some cases, the operators of a garage sale may be required to register and/or pay a fee.

Although the operation of a garage sale may be permitted under the law, the oversight of this activity may very well be within the purview of the association's board. Owners should attend monthly board meetings and speak out regarding the need to have garage sales in their community.

Garage sales do not inherently devalue property; they do not make your development look cheap. Nearly all garage sales are short-lived events usually over a weekend or holiday, and they have become a recognized American tradition that serves a legitimate purpose. Even if there is evidence to suggest that a garage sale may be negatively perceived by some, you have irrefutable proof that they are providing a much-needed source of revenue for existing titleholders. Delinquent homeowners and foreclosure proceedings can also be said to devalue property in an association.

Try to garner support of residents and board directors. Successful garage sales conducted by owners in need will only benefit the community.

In addition to any applicable city regulation that pertains to your association, if you have six or more garage sales per year, a business tax registration certificate, commonly referred to as a business license, is needed. If the garage sales do not conform to certain requirements, the individual will need to apply for a business tax registration certificate.

Garage sales circumstances that do not require taxation are as follows:

• Garage or yard sales are considered accessory to a residential use, and the sale is incidental to the individual's residential occupancy of the premises.

• Sales must be confined to the sale of used items that were originally received or purchased for use in the household.

• Sales are restricted to a maximum of five sales events per calendar year as a means of disposing of used items originally received or purchased for use in the household.

• Sales are limited to not more than two consecutive days per event.

• Sales are limited to not more than 10 days per calendar year.

• Sales are limited to the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information visit lacity.org or contact L.A.'s office of finance at (844) 663-4411.

Zachary Levine, a partner at Wolk & Levine, a business and intellectual property law firm, co-wrote this column. Vanitzian is an arbitrator and mediator. Send questions to Donie Vanitzian, JD, P.O. Box 10490, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or noexit@mindspring.com.

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A version of this article appeared in print on March 06, 2016, in the Business section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Can board shut garage sales? - ASSOCIATIONS" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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