Clean-up of graffiti on a private property is the owner's responsibility. There are two bylaws that regulate graffiti on private property:
Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 629
Property Standards and Chapter 485 - Graffiti
When City staff enforce compliance with the graffiti bylaw they try to provide owners with as many ways as possible to comply.
A bylaw officer will educate the property owner or occupant about the issue and require graffiti removal. The officer may issue written notice. The owner is given a fixed time period that they have to comply (remove the graffiti), e.g. 72 hours. If the owner provides justifiable reason for not complying within an appropriate period of time (cannot paint when it is raining, freezing, etc.), the bylaw officer will adjust the time period.
Note: If the property owner does not comply within the specified compliance period, the City will remove the graffiti and the cost will be added to the owner's taxes.
Graffiti is defined as one or more letters, symbols, figures, etchings, scratches, inscriptions, stains or other markings that disfigure or deface a structure or thing. It does not include an art mural. (Municipal Code, Chapter 485).
Graffiti vandals use a variety of materials such as spray paint, crayons and permanent ink to deface property. Hobby knives and razor blades are used to cause permanent damage to glass and other surfaces.
Here are some tips to help keep graffiti off of your property:
- Increase lighting and visibility in vulnerable areas.
- If graffiti occurs, the quick removal is recognized as the most effective prevention of further acts of vandalism.
- Installation security cameras
- Re-establishment of neighborhood watch groups
- Restriction of access to buildings and structures, i.e. fences; using protective coatings;
- Planting climbing vines or thorny plants along building walls; and use of murals.
Removal of Graffiti
Without knowing the type of surface, its state of repair, the type of paint or other marker used, etc., it is not possible to recommend a cleaning material or process. Any advice offered that led to property damage might expose the City to legal action. Consult graffiti specialists by searching the internet or using your local business directroy, under the heading "Building Maintenance and Cleaning Exterior", for advice or assistance.
Questions and Answers
Q: What do I do if I see graffiti vandalism on my property?
A If you find graffiti on your property, it is your responsibility to clean it up. You can either do it yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you.
Q: Can I get rid of graffiti myself?
A: Yes. The most important step to take in order to keep graffiti off of your property is to be vigilant and remove graffiti as soon as possible. See our tips for preventing and removing graffiti. The faster graffiti is removed the less likely it will reoccur. The longer graffiti stays on your property the harder it becomes to remove and the more additional graffiti it attracts.
Q: What I do if I see graffiti vandalism on another property in the City?
A: Call 311 to report the location of the graffiti or report it on line. City staff will have someone respond to the call. You can report anonymously if you wish.
Q: What is the City doing to eliminate graffiti vandalism?
A: City staff will remove graffiti on City-owned buildings, overpasses, bridges and public parks. Staff will strive to remove any hate or gang-related graffiti within a 24-hour period and all other graffiti within a 72-hour period.
Q: Can I commission an artist to create graffiti art or a mural on my property?
A: Yes, murals and graffiti art are an effective way of deterring graffiti vandalism. The new Graffiti By-Law has been amended to reflect the new Graffiti Management Plan and to include exemptions for Graffiti art which is a legal and acceptable form of street art and is differentiated from "tagging" which is generally characterized by writing and with the act of vandalism. StreetARToronto has resources available to assist you.