Can the HOA really say No to Political Campaign Signs?

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For some, this political season can be a stressful time full of undesirable campaign ads, signs, differing opinions, etc. For others, it is a time to fulfill one’s duty to their country by voting, or staying politically active.

Election season is a monumental time for voters and the country as a whole. Candidates are racing to get the vote of every citizen, which they do through numerous mediums over concentrated periods of time. Because there are political activists in every community and because neighbors may react in different ways or be on opposing sides, it is essential to know the rules and procedures your community has concerning political signs and manifestations.  In almost all cases the HOA can restrict political signs, even in private yards, in windows, and on private property.  However, there are exceptions: the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that residents may place campaign messages on their property regardless of HOA rules.  This is a complex issue for HOA boards and for residents.

Political Signs and the HOA - 5 Tips:

1. Be educated on the laws of your city/county/state.

Some might make the argument that by disallowing political signs, an HOA is contesting one’s First Amendment Rights. While a city or county might be under the constraints and laws of our national government, they are able to make rules stating the size and quantity of signs allowed on one’s property. This is usually done to help keep the beauty of local neighborhoods and communities intact. An HOA however, is an agreement between homeowner and community, meaning the homeowner is bound by the rules of an HOA, and not the other way around. While most HOA’s have regulations involving acceptable placement of political signs, it is possible for them to outlaw political signs completely (as long as an HOA’s restrictions do not trespass city laws).

2. Check your HOA for the bylaws over political signs.

As earlier stated, an HOA has control over the abundance and size of political signs on one’s property (this includes signs posted in a front yard, or even hanging in the window). However, most HOA’s have reasonable checks, allowing some signs as long as they do not disturb the appeal of the neighborhood. These rules protect other homeowners that may be offended by certain political signs, and keep the beauty of the community for potential homeowners.

3. Understand the time limits on your political signs.

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Because political signs are rarely used outside of their appropriate season, some HOA’s and city laws assert time limits in which a political sign can be present on a property. Be respectful post election, and take down any remaining political signs. Some HOA’s will have a time limit on how long a sign may be up before an election, which can vary between a few dozen days or several months. Remember that you are bound to the contract you signed when moving into the HOA, and that it is important to honor that agreement by considering the board, your fellow neighbors and the association as a whole.

4. If you are on the HOA board, be respectful in the removal of political signs.

If a homeowner has an encroaching political sign on their property, it is your responsibility to be civil and candid. Using force can create resentment, as many citizens hold their opinions and expressions in high regard. If using physical force seems to be the only option, reevaluate how important or offensive the sign is. Is it worth risking bitter feelings between the owner and the HOA? It is better for everyone to be polite throughout the ordeal so the laws of the HOA/city/county are respected and the homeowner understands the regulations put in place.

5. If problems arise, be reasonable and understanding.

ps2.jpgIf a resident approaches the situation with friction or tries to legally fight the laws put in place, you have a responsibility as a homeowner or an HOA board member to be understanding of the circumstances. Is it possible that the HOA laws are too restricting and infringe on one’s right to express their opinion? Is there a way to explain the issue with the political sign to the homeowners? If legal action is taken, how can it be approached calmly and appropriately?

We are told time and time again that we have the duty to stay active and aware of what happens in our government. Some do this through political signs that show their affiliation. As neighbors of said people, have respect for your acquaintance’s opinions. If issues arise, help them understand the problem so that no legal action must be taken.  

Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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