Written by Bob Hunt
It has finally rained in California and colorful flowers, both wild and domestic, will soon be making their appearances just about everywhere you turn. But that’s not all that will be sprouting up. We are also approaching the time of year when real estate signs — for sale, for rent, open house — seem to pop up in every neighborhood throughout this golden state.
Everyone loves the flowers; but not everyone is all that fond of the signs. In this column and next week’s I will discuss some of the laws, issues, and concerns regarding real estate signs. Today the focus is on signs placed on private property.
The California Civil Code (sections 712 & 713) specifically addresses the topic of real estate signs. The code provides that owners or their agents may display on the owner’s property, or on the property of another who gives consent, real estate signs that are (1) “reasonably located, in plain view of the public…”, (2) “of reasonable dimensions and design”, and (3) that “do not adversely affect public safety, including traffic safety…” The local city and/or county may determine the standard of reasonableness, but, in extreme cases, that standard may be reviewed.
Such signs may advertise (1) that the property is for sale or rent by the owner or by his agent, (2) directions to the property, (3) the owner or agent’s name, and (4) the owner or agent’s address and telephone number.
One twist on the provision just mentioned is that an HOA may adopt restrictions on a particular issue if the city ordinance is silent on that issue. Suppose, for example, that the city sign ordinance simply does not address the issue of color schemes. Then it would be OK for the Homeowner Association to adopt a rule that required all ‘for sale’ signs in the development to use a certain color scheme. If the ordinance had had language saying that any color scheme is acceptable, then the HOA could not adopt such a rule.
It is important to note that the specifications above apply to signs either on the owner’s property or on the property of another person who has given consent. None of that applies to the placement of signs on a private or public right-of-way. And that is where the issue of ‘open house’ directional signs comes into play. It is the topic of next week’s column.