Election billboard put up without consent

| 17/04/2017

Does a political candidate have the right to erect a billboard on private property without the owner’s permission? There are some who think they do and refuse to remove the signage. Is the property owner allowed to remove the aforementioned signage since they have not approved its instalment and it is an eyesore? I have tried to look this up online but the elections website is flagged as unsafe and my calls to the office have gone unanswered.

Auntie’s answer: I am going to attempt to answer this question based on common sense and the law, with the understanding that the former may have little to do with real life. I do like to live in hope that common sense will prevail most of the time.

I found some legal ground that covers your question to some degree and then I will add a dollop of that pesky common sense.

I think the Department of Planning is where you will find the answer. On the website the FAQs pages addresses illegal developments, which include “unauthorised display of advertisements” that may be “subject to enforcement by the Planning Authority”.

And the Towns and Communities Law (1995 Revision) may be of use here as well; there is a related part that could cover your situation. Section 3(1) says “Every person who – (j) without the consent of the owner or occupier, affixes any bill or other paper against or upon any building, wall, fence or pale, or writes upon, soils, defaces or marks any such building, wall, fence or pale in any way whatsoever; is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for six months.”

Setting aside the question of what a “pale” is, I feel a posted sign could possibly be included in this section.

In addition, if anyone wants to put up a sign they are first supposed to apply for planning permission, with a $75 fee for anything 30 square feet or less and $150 for anything larger.

While the law seems straightforward, the tricky part here is that the person who erected the sign is not the owner of the property, so if a complaint is made, it seems that property owner would be the one facing legal consequences.

This is where common sense must step in. I would think (hope) that the property owner would be well within his or her rights to take down the offending sign but to be absolutely safe they could call the Planning Department (244-6501) to determine the best course of action.

The law mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library

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Category: Ask Auntie, Election Questions

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    To continue this, one of these has been put up at the Camana Bay roundabout. As this land is going to be part of the road soon I would have thought this was government land and therefore not able to have a political sign installed?

  2. Anonymous says:

    ” I am going to attempt to answer this question based on common sense and the law, with the understanding that the former may have little to do with real life.” I agree that so-called common sense often has little to do with real life, but surely the latter can be even worse in that regard?

  3. Anonymous says:

    A “pale” is a fence post 😉

  4. A Nony Mouse says:

    These political signs are a blight upon the land and are unfortunately a “sign of the times” ushering in the start of the quadrennial “silly season!”

    Firstly, the person who erected this sign committed trespass in the act of doing so. Secondly it is a “defacement” of the property and is in violation of the owner’s right to “peaceable enjoyment” of their private property. In both situations the property owner should have every right to remove the offending sign.


    • Anonymous says:

      Get a saw, job done

    • Anonymous says:

      Can then see to receive compensation for damages to the property and press charges for trespassing? Then can they press charges for fraud as the individual purported to have received permission to erect the sign legally?