Signs of spring everywhere – literally

From our beautiful trees budding and tulips popping, to days that alternate between rain showers and sun showers, to the increased pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk – and auto traffic on Queen Street – signs of spring in the Beach are everywhere.

And as a matter of course, spring’s arrival in the Beach is heralded by the increasing amount of “For Sale” signs starting to dot front lawns. Then, much more predictable than the spring weather, are the “Sold” signs attached to those signs in short order. Along with these two, come the increasing amount of “Open House” signs popping up on our streets like dandelions on our lawns. Open House signs are everywhere on weekends – and in many cases, everywhere they shouldn’t be.

Even with all of the technological advances for marketing and advertising homes for sale and their subsequent open houses, it’s still the conventional, if not lowly, A-frame open house sign that is the real estate profession’s go-to choice to draw in the throngs of buyers – and nosey neighbour’s – to the anointed residence.

They’re used as directional markers for auto and pedestrian traffic to the address of the open house, and even more as personal advertising for the sales representative. Yes, they can be and are effective. Yet, in the hands of a minority of sales representatives, open house signs are becoming increasingly obtrusive, and in some instances dangerous to public safety.

There are sales representatives that feel it’s their right to place an open house sign anywhere they want. They think it’s smart to drop that sign down in the middle of a sidewalk, or partially over it, imagining that every person that walks past that open house sign is going to see the sales rep’s name or smiling face, and immediately veer towards their client’s house. Maybe they think that nobody will notice their sign unless the pedestrians can trip over it, or that their signs are invisible to pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists, unless it’s placed smack in the middle of where the sidewalk meets the street curb.

Some signs remain there all day and night to advertise the fact that this sales rep has an open house.

Thankfully, the City of Toronto has taken notice of this practice and recently issued a strong warning to the real estate industry to try to curb it. Last month, Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) notified their members (some 45,000 agents last month – probably 100,000 by next week!) that the City is going to crack down on offenders.

Sadly, a look around the neighbourhood shows that many offending real estate sales representatives still remain oblivious to their placement of open house signs.

Signs in the City of Toronto are regulated by Chapter 693 of the Municipal Code. Under this bylaw, sign permits are NOT required for real estate Open House signs or real estate For Sale, Lease, or Sold signs, but numerous restrictions do still apply.

Section 693-22 deals with Open House sign restrictions, including restrictions on the specific location and times they may appear.

I’m referring to specific highlights in Bylaw 693-22 here, including “an open house directional sign shall not be erected or displayed in such a manner as to impede a pedestrian’s or driver’s view of any vehicular access point … of any parking or traffic control sign, signal or device … of any intersection.”

The bylaws go on to say that “an open house directional sign may only be displayed during the hours that the open house to which the sign relates is open and operating … an open house directional sign may only be displayed during the period between sunset and sunrise” (an error in language, the intention is to restrict the use of open house signs to the period between sunrise and sunset).

Further, the bylaw states “open house directional signs may be located on public property if: the open house directional sign is placed on the public road allowance, but not any centre median, traffic island or centre boulevard within the road allowance …. if the placement of the sign shall allow for an unobstructed pedestrian clearway of a minimum width of 2.1 metres at all points … if the open house directional sign is not located within less than 0.3 metre of the pedestrian sidewalk … and if the open house directional sign is not located within less than 0.3 metre of the vehicular travelled portion of the road.”

For those sales representatives that think they’re pretty darn smart to leave their signs up overnight (or just too lazy to take them away), the bylaw states “an open house directional sign may only be displayed during the hours that the open house to which the sign relates is open and operating;”.

One more bylaw for good measure relating to Sold Signs in section 693-21 states the sign needs to be “removed within 30 days after the premises is no longer for sale, rent or lease. “

Of course, not every letter of these bylaw restrictions can be easily followed, but let’s hope that Beach real estate sales reps start using some simple common sense, and good manners, when it comes to their open house signs.

If you have any comments regarding this article or questions about Beach real estate in general, please feel free to contact me at 416-690-5100, or email


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