There isn’t a clear-cut answer to this question.
There are certain situations where it’s legal to put a sign in your front yard and others where it’s not. For instance, while you can put a sign in your front yard if you live on private property and the sign doesn’t violate any city codes, you can get sued for putting up a sign that’s considered offensive.
In this post, we will explore different scenarios where it’s legal or illegal to put up signs and answer some frequently asked questions related to this topic as well. Some of the questions we’ll answer include:
- If I live on someone else’s property, can I still put up a sign in the front yard?
- What are the charges for putting up an illegal sign?
- Can I put up a sign about my neighbors?
What Makes a Sign In My Front Yard Legal?
For a sign to be legal, here’s a list of requirements it must meet:
- The sign shouldn’t be offensive.
- The sign shouldn’t aim to defame someone.
- The sign must be coherent to all the laws of your local state.
- The sign shouldn’t aim to spread rumors.
- The sign must be within the boundary lines of your property.
What Makes a Sign In My Front Yard Illegal?
Your sign will be considered illegal if it does any of the following:
- It’s not within the boundary lines of your property.
- Its purpose is clearly to offend someone in your neighborhood.
- It isn’t following the rules and laws of your local county.
- It has inappropriate images that are prohibited by your local laws.
- It is advertising a substance or service that’s illegal.
FAQs About Putting Up Signs In the Front Yard
Here are the five most frequently asked questions about signs in front yards.
1. Can I Put a Sign About My Neighbors?
No, you cannot put a sign in your front yard that’s critical of or offensive to your neighbors — even if it’s true. This is considered slander and could result in the neighbor suing you for defamation.
That being said, if you want to put a sign that commends your neighbor, go for it!
2. If I Live On Someone Else’s Property, Can I Still Put Up a Sign In the Front Yard?
If you live on someone else’s property, it is a good idea to check with them before putting up a sign in your front yard.
In most cases, the person who owns the home also has the legal right to do what they want with their own property — including signs. If you put up a sign without getting permission from this individual, there’s a good chance you will get asked to remove it or risk getting sued.
For instance, if your neighbor puts up an offensive sign and the property owner decides they don’t want to be associated with this message, they might sue you for defamation of their character.
3. What Are the Charges for Putting Up an Illegal Sign?
Putting up an illegal sign can lead to a variety of charges.
In some cases, the charges might lead you to be fined by your city or county and you will be ordered to take down the sign immediately. In other situations, it could be considered criminal defamation if someone sues you for putting up a message that’s offensive — this is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Meaning that it leads to more severe punishments.
To find out the exact charge for putting up an illegal sign in your area, you should consult a criminal defense attorney. They will also have the knowledge to answer any other legal questions you may have about the sign in your yard.
4. Is Putting Up an Illegal Sign Worth It?
No, it’s certainly not. A lawsuit is never worth it. So no matter how much you want to show your neighbors the sign, it’s best to take the high road. Whatever trouble you’re having with your neighbors, either keep it to yourself or go over to your neighbor’s house and talk it out. You will be surprised how often tensions arise because of misconceptions made due to miscommunication.
5. What Should I Do If Neighbor Puts Up a Sign to Offend Me?
There are several courses of action you can take to address your neighbor’s offensive sign.
First, if the sign is slanderous or offensive, then it could lead to a defamation lawsuit that requires the removal of the sign and monetary damages for any emotional distress caused by the content on the sign. This option isn’t always favorable because these lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive.
Second, you can approach your neighbor directly with a solution that will benefit both of you. For instance, you could inform your neighbor why the sign offends you and what improvements can be made to fix this issue. This option is typically far easier. However, if your neighbor isn’t being reasonable, then you should either go with the first option or the third one.
What’s the third option? Just ignore the sign. We know it sounds like a pill too hard to swallow but think about all the trouble you will be saving yourself. Ask yourself is the sign really worth squabbling over with your neighbor? Is it worth the money you will have to spend filing a lawsuit? Most importantly, is the sign offensive enough to go through all the trouble you will face in the court. If the answer is no, then you should just ignore it.
Signs can be used for good or bad purposes. If you’ve got something useful you want to put on a sign, go for it! On the other hand, if you want to up a sign to get back at someone, then think again.
While an annoying neighbor may tempt you to put up an offensive sign, you should remember that doing so can lead to a lawsuit. So before you give in to your anger and post an offensive sign, make sure that you’re legally clear to do so. Otherwise, you could face a hefty fine, jail time, or even both.