Can a homeowner be fined for having just one garage sale?

The Association president says that is “running a business”.

Asked on April 12, 2014 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There is no clear answer. Generally, "running a business" does involve a repeated or regular activity, not a one-time commercial transaction; e.g. selling a no-longer-used Stairmaster on eBay and someone picking it up from your home would not generally be considered a business. However, bear in mind:

1) If the language in the homeowner's association agreement, by-laws, or other documents seems to cover this situation, that language will control;

2) Even though usually it takes more than one sale to constitute a "business," there is no bright line definition out there, so the point is subject to being argued; and

3) If a homeowner is fined and wants to challenge it, (s)he would have to do so in court, which would almost certainly cost more than the fine.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Having a garage sale one time is not running a business because running a business requires an ongoing operation.  If you had garage sales regularly on a continuing basis, it is possible that it may be construed as running a business, but a one time garage sale is NOT running a business.

Unless there is some prohibition in the CC&Rs (conditions, covenants and restrictions) prohibiting a garage sale or requiring the prior consent of the HOA, the fine is unwarranted and should be challenged.

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