The 2016 presidential election was one of the most vicious the US has seen. As a result, HOAs are struggling to decide between free speech or forbidding political signs. To learn more about HOAs, political signs and free speech, check out these three FAQs.
What’s the Law?
Freedom of speech is one of the best known freedoms in America. People can complain about the current president without fear of retaliation. This also means they can tell the world who they are voting for in an upcoming election. The law in all 50 states allows political signs to be placed on private property. However, private property next to state highways may be excluded from this as they can affect traffic safety. Other laws include the size and location of the signs on public property and how close to polling areas signs may be posted.
What’s the Rule with HOAs?
You may assume an HOA can’t create rules for political signs because of freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech typically refers to public settings, not private. Therefore, depending on state laws, the HOA may be able to limit what you put in your yard. Some states have laws that prevent associations from regulating political signs in any way. In other states, the HOA can’t ban them completely, but they can create regulations, such as size, quantity, timing, etc. If the state has no law stating the association can’t regulate signs, the HOA probably has the right to do so.
What’s the Problem?
Normally, it’s not that big of a problem when you see a political sign, even if you disagree with it. However, as the 2016 was cruel and polarizing, it has shown that political signs can cause problems, especially if the signs are particularly demeaning. This can create an unfriendly and uncomfortable neighborhood. It may prevent certain people from joining the community, and it may even cause others to move away, to escape the unpleasant signs and atmosphere.
If legal, HOAs should create certain rules and regulations regarding political signs. They don’t necessarily have to prohibit them completely, but making sure the community isn’t overrun with inappropriate signs will keep the neighborhood friendly.