Legal Blog - Real Estate Laws


New Fairfax Sign Enforcement Program

Sep 23, 2016

Real Estate Laws

By Lisa Vierse May

Improperly placed open house signs can cost you more than a sale. They can also result in confiscated signs and a loss of hard-earned money.

As of July 1, Realtors® in Fairfax County must pay special attention to the location of their directional and open house signs. Under an agreement between the County and VDOT, officials began enforcing sign regulations, and issuing fines, on week-days.

Placing signs in the highway rights-of-way has always been prohibited in Fairfax County under Federal Highway Administration rules. However, enforcing those provisions proved difficult for County staff. As a result, the number of commercial signs in the rights-of-way has grown exponentially, as has public backlash against them.

NVAR worked with the County to devise an enforcement program to curb the use of illegal signs while still protecting the ability of Realtors® to place real estate directional signs in approved locations. County officials appeared at NVAR’s June 14 Public Policy Forum on signs. At that forum, officials provided the following tips for Realtors® about placing their directional signs. The complete information is available on our website at Realtors® may also view sign regulations for each Northern Virginia locality on our Sign Regulations page at

Signs Enforcement: What You Need to Know

Realtors® can play a role in keeping the County attractive for homeowners and potential buyers by adhering to the following:
•Off-site directional signs placed Saturday through Monday in the public right-of-way adjacent to the road will not be subject to the County’s sign enforcement program. For the purposes of the program, the right-of-way will be considered to extend 12 feet from the edge of the roadway.
•Fines for the placement of illegal signs are $100 per sign, with each sign constituting a separate offense. The County will attempt to send warnings to offenders before instituting fines, but be aware that agents in our area have already received fines of up to $1,000 for egregious offenses.
•The County is required by law to hold confiscated signs for five days. If your sign has been confiscated and you would like to retrieve it, you may do so at the I-66 Transfer Station on West Ox Road in Fairfax.
•Balloons, flags, and other moving parts attached to signs in the right-of-way are illegal at all times, as are signs placed in the medians of divided roadways, because they are considered distracting to drivers.
•VDOT will respond to citizen complaints about signs in the right-of-way. If they find that the sign is a hazard for drivers, it may be confiscated at any time.
•Signs placed in roadways covered by the Adopt-a-Highway program are illegal and subject to confiscation at any time.

Fairfax County Code Officials are available to make presentations to area real estate offices and answer questions about the sign enforcement program. For more information, contact the Office of Code Compliance at 703.324.1300.
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