Legally Yardsailing (not street trading)
There are normally very few restrictions placed by local authorities on holding a yard sale or a garage sale, and no by-laws (at least in the London Borough of Ealing) which cover them.
You don’t need permission from your local council unless you’re planning on having a yard sale more than, say, around 10 times a year.
If you’re planning on having food and/or drinks available you don’t need permission either unless you are going to be starting a regular yard sale habit.
However, the local authority who advised us on the legality of yard sales suggested that we should use common sense in ensuring the safety of anyone on our property as we would with our own families.
Ealing Council also told us to be very clear that yard sales are only permitted within the boundaries of your own property. The Council would otherwise consider it street trading (which requires a licence).
Use your common sense and give notice to your neighbours to minimise any nuisance or disturbance. If you are planning on playing music, obviously don’t play it for too long or allow the volume up too high.
Be aware that the Highways Department at your local authority may have rules and regulations covering the use of signs or adverts. However, in our neck of the woods we have never heard of anyone posting notices about lost cats, community garden parties or anything else being prosecuted or getting into trouble.
To set up a yard sale
Decide what stuff you want to get rid of (books, clothes, kitchen utensils, furniture, toys etc).
Decide on a weekend when you will hold your yard sale. Ideally, plan 3-4 weeks ahead.
Start collecting plastic carrier bags. You may need lots of newspaper to wrap breakable items.
If you have lots of clothes to sell, borrow a hanging rack if you can. Otherwise, if you have a fence the right height, it is possible to hang things on that.
Sort through your belongings and put anything you don’t want into black plastic bags. If you have a lot, you may want to put toys in one bag, books in another and so on.
Decide when you want to hold your yard sale and fill in this form so that we can publicize it for you for free*
Decide whether you are going to offer cakes and drinks either free or for sale. Set aside time to get these ready.
If you want to price things as you go along, that can be fine but it’s usually best to sort through everything beforehand and label things as much as possible.
On the day, it shouldn’t take you more than about an hour to set up. Get your table in place and arrange your yardsale on it. If you have more than one table available, and have space for it, then all the better. Otherwise things can be put into cardboard boxes for people to sort through. The more you have out on display, the better.
This is mostly common sense, but it’s worth just being sure that you follow these guidelines:
You need to be very strict about keeping the inside of your home off limits to anyone you don’t know.
It is sensible not to run a yard sale or garage sale on your own. Get a close friend or relative to agree to help you for the entire duration of your sale.
Keep any cash safe. Change can be kept in a cash box but all notes should be kept in a wallet or bum bag that you keep attached to you at all times.
If there are any items of value in your yard sale or garage sale, make sure they are not easily accessible.
As you may know, charity shops are no longer allowed to sell electrical goods. Below are some guidelines for selling anything electric.
- The burden of proof is on the seller (trader or a private individual)
- The seller may need to prove the electrical item was in good working order/safe.
- It is a criminal offence to sell defective/dangerous electrical goods.
- A valid Pat test would provide proof that the item is in working order and could be useful.
-A label attached to the item clearly stating “this item is not tested for safety/functionality”. If you decide to sell an item which may not be safe, remove the plug and take a photograph of the item without the plug and with its label.
- Private individual liability means you could be sued if anything goes wrong (ie fire or electrocution).
In other words, proceed with selling electrical items at your own risk.
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