Jorge and Maria Ramos have held daily garage sales out of their rented home in Houston since 2011, as a way to supplement their disability income. Due to glaucoma, Jorge is blind in both eyes. “They barely even make [enough] to pay the bills, the rent, the food and all that,” said their son, Robert Ramos.
But earlier this month, Houston sued their landlord to stop the garage sales, arguing the sales violated a deed restriction. The Ramos family claims they’re being singled out, as they say a neighbor also holds daily yard sales, but hasn’t faced any complaints or legal consequences.
In Houston, residents can only hold two yard sales a year or else they need to obtain a sales tax permit from the state, which the Ramos family says they have. Nevertheless, under threat of eviction, the couple decided to stop holding the sales, according to News 92 FM.
Houston isn’t the only city that has cracked down on property rights. IJ clients Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll were forced to uproot their 17-year-old vegetable garden because Miami Shores, Fla., decided to ban gardens in front yards (pink flamingos and garden gnomes are OK). Meanwhile, in Winona, Minn., only 30 percent of homeowners on any given block are allowed to rent out their own homes.
Institute for Justice Attorney Wesley Hottot has also examined some of Houston’s anticompetitive and bizarre laws (like its ban on inflatable balloon ads) in Houston, We Have a Problem, a city study on entrepreneurship.
If you are facing laws that violate your private property rights, let us know about it.
— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice