Door-to-Door Solicitors

August 9th, 2019

In response to recent resident questions, we thought this would be a good time to provide a reminder on the law governing door-to-door vendors, solicitors, and canvassers. We have a two-tier approach, which is consistent with court decisions.

For vendors who are carrying the goods they are selling, such as food trucks or ice cream carts, we require them to pre-register at the Village Hall, where they get a certificate/ photo ID that they must carry while in Tower Lakes. The police run a background check as part of the process of ensuring public safety.

All other door-to-door sellers of future goods or services (lawn care, pest control, roofing, subscriptions, etc.) and all those seeking contributions in support of a charity etc. are deemed “Solicitors”. Persons conducting any manner of door-to-door advocacy, including surveys or literature distribution, are deemed “Canvassers”. Constitutionally, we cannot and do not prohibit solicitors or canvassers in our town nor require them to pre-register, submit to a background check or limit their hours. Almost all of them are just doing a job. However, some people do not want to be bothered at home or feel insecure, and protections from the potential nuisance of trespassing are available under local law. Any resident who does not wish to be visited by solicitors or canvassers may place a card on or near the front door saying “Canvassers, Solicitors, and Peddlers Forbidden” or a similar message. Such a sign informs and discourages them and legally renders a knock or doorbell ring a violation. You can also simply tell a solicitor you want them to leave. Doing so triggers the same legal requirement as the sign; that they must immediately depart your property. TLPD should be called if you want to report a violation. They are trained to discern the difference between protected free speech and trespassing and have the resources to investigate and resolve. Don’t involve yourself in a confrontation.

As a public service, Tower Lakes has a supply of “No Solicitors Invited” stickers, which are available free at the Village Hall.  Note that Census, utility and delivery workers can still legally knock on your door regardless of signs.

On a related note, Fall is a prime season for door-to-door theft scams in our area. If someone comes to your home saying they are doing tree trimming or service work at your neighbor’s and can thus give you a good deal and appear to be keeping you engaged at the front door, consider that a red flag that they might have a partner at the back door. Keep your doors and windows locked. Even though we have a statistically extraordinarily safe community, we do not have immunity and it will never be wise to make your property a target of opportunity by leaving homes or cars unlocked.

David Parro

Village President

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