Getting Rid of Annoying Salespeople at your Door

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While tenants may find door-to-door salespeople or canvassing annoying, solicitors are generally protected by their First Amendment right to free speech. Tenants can put up a no soliciting sign or say no.

First Amendment

In numerous cases, courts have stated that door-to-door solicitation is protected by the First Amendment. Courts have accepted very few limitations to that right. For example, in Watchtower Bible and Tract Society v. Village of Stratton, the Court said a city permit to do door-to-door solicitation is an undue burden on free speech rights. The judge prohibited the city from enforcing the law. In Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. Town of Yorktown, Indiana said city ordinances that restrict solicitation to work hours is also unconstitutional. Cities and states are generally are unable to constitutionally prohibit solicitation or place major restrictions on the practice.

No Solicitation

Tenants that don’t want solicitation have two options. First, they can post a “No soliciting” sign, which solicitors are legally required to obey. Some jurisdictions define solicitation as the act of attempting to sell something. Others explicitly allow religious or non-profit groups to ignore the sign. Alternatively, tenants are free to tell solicitors they are not interested and not to return.

Retaliation Against Solicitors

Tenants that attack door-to-door salespeople may be liable under civil and criminal laws, even where no sustained physical injuries are incurred. Thus, even shooting them with water guns or spitting on door-to-door people or can result in fines, penalties, or jail time. As always, tenants can prohibit door-to-door solicitors from entering their apartment, and failure to obey that request is considered a trespass.

First Amendment


In numerous cases, courts have stated that door-to-door solicitation is protected by the First Amendment. Courts have accepted very few limitations to that right. For example, in Watchtower Bible and Tract Society v. Village of Stratton, the Court said a city permit to do door-to-door solicitation is an undue burden on free speech rights. The judge prohibited the city from enforcing the law. In Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana v. Town of Yorktown, Indiana said city ordinances that restrict solicitation to work hours is also unconstitutional. Cities and states are generally are unable to constitutionally prohibit solicitation or place major restrictions on the practice.

No Solicitation


Tenants that don’t want solicitation have two options. First, they can post a “No soliciting” sign, which solicitors are legally required to obey. Some jurisdictions define solicitation as the act of attempting to sell something. Others explicitly allow religious or non-profit groups to ignore the sign. Alternatively, tenants are free to tell solicitors they are not interested and not to return.

Retaliation Against Solicitors


Tenants that attack door-to-door salespeople may be liable under civil and criminal laws, even where no sustained physical injuries are incurred. Thus, even shooting them with water guns or spitting on door-to-door people or can result in fines, penalties, or jail time. As always, tenants can prohibit door-to-door solicitors from entering their apartment, and failure to obey that request is considered a trespass.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

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