HOA political signs pop up more and more as election day comes near, and that’s a good thing — they’re a great indication that the people in your community are actively engaged in the voting process, whether it’s for your HOA elections or for state and national politics. HOA campaign signs do need to be regulated, however, if you don’t want giant political signs in your HOA taking over the neighborhood.
Knowing Your HOA’s Rules on HOA Political Signs
What’s allowed when it comes to HOA signs, and are there any political signs laws you can refer to as a basis for drafting your political yard signs rules? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the existing regulations and what they say about HOA political signs. Let’s also go over some of the limiting factors you can put in place to limit the number and size of HOA campaign signs that residents can place on their property.
Limiting HOA Political Signs in Your Community
Whenever election season comes around, your community is likely seeing more of these HOA political signs around—possibility a ton—and your board might be wondering if they have any way to control them. As it turns out, some municipal ordinances can give your board some control over the display of HOA political signs.
In North Carolina, for example, the Planned Community and Condominium Acts were updated a few years back to give community planners a way to address the display of HOA political signs. Several sections were added that pertain to the display of not just HOA political signs but also flags and other forms of political displays. It can be worthwhile to study this and similar ordinances to see what your local government has to say about HOA political signs.
Now, you’re probably thinking about the First Amendment and how the right to free speech fits into this. While it might seem that this prevents HOAs from keeping political signs out of the association, many U.S. courts have upheld, for a long time, that homeowners associations have a right to prohibit these types of signs. In particular, HOAs in some areas may have the right to prohibit the display of HOA political signs well ahead of the day of the election – around 45 days is a typical restriction for these regulations.
Likewise, HOA boards in some areas are also allowed to limit the display of HOA political signs after the election. In some municipalities, community managers can require homeowners to put away their signs seven days after the election day.
HOA boards in some states may have control not just on the length of time that residents are allowed to put up HOA political signs. In some areas, the association may also regulate the number and size of HOA political signs that a homeowner can have on their property. Another example is the City of Charlotte, they have ordinances that allow an HOA to prohibit the display of HOA political signs larger than 16 square feet.
It’s important to note that the regulation of signs in your community is only allowed to the extent of a provision recorded in your Declaration of Covenant that gives you the right. Most HOA’s documents do include these provisions that prohibit signs unless they are approved by the Board or the association’s architectural control committee.
Allowing HOA Political Signs in Your Community
If your HOA Board doesn’t want to be this strict and would still like to allow residents to respectfully display political signs in the community, you can work with your association’s attorney to create a neural policy on political signage.
Many HOA Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) already have provisions that regulate the size and number of signs and advertising that a homeowner can have on their property. You as a community planner can use these provisions as a basis for coming up with political yard signs rules for your community.
If your community does not already have some form of CC&R provision that deals with signs, flags, and advertising, now would be a great time to come up with one. Commercial and political yard signs rules could put controls in place on the design and posting of signs.
These could let the residents know in detail the number of signs, locations they are permitted, and the sizes of the HOA political signs they are allowed to have. It would also include a limit on how long the signs can be displayed and require that they be professionally lettered.
Having these signage rules will help to minimize the visual noise that HOA political signs can add to your community. Think of it as something that protects your community’s appearance and a way to avoid the indiscriminate proliferation of HOA political signs everywhere. With signage controls in place, your HOA board is allowing members to show support of what they believe in while keeping the HOA political ads relatively uniform and organized.
How to Handle Removal of HOA Political Signs
HOA political signs are not all that different from other issues your board may come across. Like other cases that the HOA board handles, it’s important to cooperate with the residents to ensure that political yard signs rules are being observed. Proper enforcement of rules from the HOA board or the management company is vital.
Not everyone may be aware that their HOA political signs have been on their lawn for too long after the election day, for example. In cases like these, it’s best to assume that the owner is willing to cooperate, so a gentle reminder of the CC&R rules is often enough to ensure their cooperation.
HOA Political Signs Need Not Be a Divisive Issue
HOA political signs, their posting, and the subsequent removal is a community issue that needs to be enforced uniformly, regardless of the political views of those involved. Situations like this can sometimes get tricky, and your HOA board may even get accused by residents of violating their First Amendment rights.
Before the election season comes around, it’s best to be prepared so you have the implementing rules on your side. Need more help coming up with HOA political signs regulations for your community? We can help.
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