While a man’s home might be his castle, his yard is often covered in red tape. A yard sale might seem innocuous since it allows families to earn a little extra cash and rid their homes of unwanted items. But in Newton, N.C., the city council has restricted residents to holding only four yard sales a year, with each sale lasting no more than 36 hours. Most troubling: yard sales are completely banned on Sundays.
Yard and garage sales have long been a part of suburban American life. Yard sales grew from selling unwanted items at shipping yards to family efforts as more people moved to the suburbs and expanded their personal possessions. So why would cities want to restrict such an obvious source of economic gain for residents?
Banning yard sales on Sundays prevents suburban families from making a little extra money and using their property in a healthy, productive manner as they see fit. Most working families would probably like to host their yard sales on the weekends when people are out and about in the neighborhood and less involved with work and school.
Unfortunately, intrusive local governments regulate private property all the time. The Institute for Justice is currently fighting for the rights of a Florida couple to grow vegetables in their own front yard and for a Minnesota couple who are banned from renting out their home. While these bans seem like they might just be annoying, they have real and substantive consequences for economic liberty.
— Julia Morriss
Julia Morriss is an intern at the Institute for Justice