With election season upon us, one especially prevalent topic for homeowners’ associations (HOAs) across North America is the display of political signs in members’ front yards and homes. As a resident of a managed community, you may have questioned the allowances regarding political signs in your neighborhood—if they’re permitted, restricted, or given any attention at all. As a private organization, your HOA has the authority to impose and enforce the standards it has in place to preserve and enhance the community. That might include political sign activity. Read on to learn more about political signs and HOAs.
Can I display political signs on my property?
Put simply, it depends. HOAs are typically non-profit corporations that govern through deed restrictions and rules and regulations. Found within your community’s governing documents, these rules and regulations are in place for good reason; they’re meant to preserve the aesthetics of an area, protect home values, maintain the association’s property, and more. When you buy a property within an HOA, you sign legal paperwork agreeing to the terms set within the governing documents. So, ultimately, if there are political sign restrictions or allowances in the governing documents, you must adhere to them.
How do I find out if political signs are allowed?
While political signs are an expression of free speech, state and local laws and your HOA’s governing documents should detail whether political signs are permitted or prohibited, as well as additional information and guidelines. If permitted, look to your governing documents for details about:
- Size of signs allowed
- Number of signs allowed
- Number of days before and after an election that signs can be displayed
- Manner signs can be displayed
- Locations of signs
If you have further questions, reach out to your board of directors, association lawyer, or community manager.
Does my HOA have the legal right to regulate political signs?
An HOA operates a lot like a local government, but it isn’t a governmental entity subject to the same controls. It’s a private organization (often registered as a non-profit corporation). There are laws that govern HOAs, but as a private organization, your HOA may have the legal right to regulate political signs.
However, these rights vary from state to state. In some states, like Texas and Arizona, HOAs cannot prohibit the display of political signs, but the association can regulate them. In other states, like Kansas and Pennsylvania, HOAs can prohibit the display of political signs. Reference your state and local laws and governing documents to understand the specifics in your area. As always, consult your community manager, board of directors, or lawyer if clarification is needed.
What if my HOA doesn’t have any political sign restrictions?
If your association doesn't have any specific rules regarding political signs, it’s still beneficial to consult your board or community manager. These people will be your best resources to confirm your political sign is within community guidelines. If your community doesn’t have clear guidelines, you can also work with your board to determine the next steps to adopting rules that inform what is or isn’t allowed.
Can I change my HOA’s rules about political signs?
Your HOA's rules aren’t always set in stone. It may be possible to change rules or guidelines that don’t benefit your community's best interest. Work with your board of directors to voice any concerns and discuss how to change your association's rules moving forward.
Do I have to remove my political sign when my HOA asks?
If you’ve received an official request from your HOA to take down a political sign, you should comply. If you disagree with the request, work closely with your board and community manager to resolve the issue calmly and respectfully.
How to Start Working with Your Local Government
Community associations—and the community association management industry—are a regular focus in legislatures across North America. What happens at the state or provincial level can impact local government and, consequently, your own community. Creating a relationship with your local government officials can not only ensure you’re up to date on various legislation, but also influence the outcome of legislation and regulations that are adopted by these government entities. Read our article, “How to Start Working with Your Local Government,” to learn more.