What you need to know before you put up that “for sale” sign
Last August, Chris Swift was putting in a “for sale” yard sign as part of his sign installation business. It was something he’d done many times before, but this time something wasn’t right. He smelled gas, and quickly realized that the post had punctured a gas line.
“It was an imminent danger, and there could have been an explosion that caused death or injury,” says Chris.
He was fortunate that nobody was hurt, but he still had to pay a $1,500 fine from the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) and $3,500 for repairs and other costs. Others who have punctured gas lines haven’t been so lucky.
In one case, a home near Winnipeg exploded as a result of a natural gas leak. Earlier that day, the homeowner had been driving spikes into his lawn. When the line ruptured, the basement filled with gas, leading to the explosion. The resulting fire also destroyed the home next door.
And it’s not just gas lines under the ground. A yard could contain oil pipelines, phone and cable lines, electric lines, and sewer and water pipes. All of this infrastructure could be damaged by sign installation, and that’s a big safety risk.
In the rush to get a property up for sale, registrants may not want to wait to find out where it’s safe to install a yard sign. But under the law, you have to. RECO does not enforce these rules, but the Technical Standards & Safety Authority, Electrical Safety Authority and Ontario One Call all have requirements for obtaining a “locate” that will let you know about any underground infrastructure.
If you’re installing the sign yourself, obtain a locate by contacting Ontario One Call at www.on1call.com or 1-800-400-2255. It’s a free service and you can contact them 24/7. If you’re contracting with a sign installation company, you should ensure that they get a locate as well. Even if you don’t handle the installation personally, you could still be held liable for any damage.
Remember, you have a duty of care to your client, which means following all relevant laws and regulations, not just the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA 2002).
Chris had to learn the hard way, and he’s since advocated for more awareness in the real estate community.
“This is an issue that everyone in the real estate industry should care about,” he says.