Have you been breaking the law in your town for years?

You have some old clothes, albums or electronics you'd like to unload, but instead of giving them away, you set up shop on the driveway or lawn and try to make some money, hoping that your trash, as they say, is someone else's treasure.

David Sacks, ThinkStock

It seems innocent, but in many New Jersey municipalities you're required to obtain a permit — in most cases, for a fee — in order to host a yard sale on your property.

Without the proper documentation, law enforcement has the right to shut down the operation, or even impose a fine.

The permit requirement is one of many yard sale-related regulations that have been on the books for decades in New Jersey communities.

A $5 permit in Lacey Township clears residents for two consecutive days of outdoor sales, plus a backup weekend in the event of inclement weather. Property owners are limited to four permits per year.

Township Administrator Veronica Laureigh said the ordinance was introduced in the mid 1970s following public outcry over some residents who were dealing second-hand items from their front yards on sometimes a weekly basis.

"Every weekend, these residential neighborhoods would have an influx of cars," she said. "You'd have junk dealers that would do it out of their front yards."

Lacey sold nearly 600 permits in 2016. Enforcement of noncompliance, Laureigh said, only occurs in the event of a resident complaint.

Permit prices vary greatly among municipalities. Here's a sample of some local rules in New Jersey:

  • Bloomfield: $10 - Failure to comply can result in a fine of no less than $25.
  • Eatontown: $10 - Up to four dates, rain or shine, are allowed in a 12-month period.
  • Garfield: $10 - Any location or person is limited to two sales per year. The permit must be prominently displayed during the sale.
  • Kearny: $25 - No signs advertising the sale are to be posted anywhere other than the premises where the sale is to be held.
  • Millville: $5 - Hours of operation must be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Senior citizens and the permanently disabled are exempt from the license fee.
  • South Plainfield: $2 - Garage sales are restricted to two per year, at least six months apart.
  • Spotswood: $5 - No sales may commence before 10 a.m., or occur beyond 5 p.m.
  • Union (Union County): $7 per day - The limit is two sales per year.

Contact the Clerk's Office to see if a permit is required in your town.

On the townships' websites, Ocean and Wall state that no permits are required for yard sales. Woodbridge notes it does not endorse and is not responsible for resident garage sales. East Brunswick has several rules related to yard sales — including a ban on the sale of new merchandise — but a permit is not required.

State law prohibits the posting of signs or advertising on utility poles. Lacey encourages residents to put their signs and posters on stakes and get permission from property owners before posting.

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