One of the goals of a responsible homeowners’ association (HOA) is to create a sense of community among those who live in the complex or neighborhood. That means that everyone should feel some level of comfort and safety.
Few things have divided Americans and even families in recent years more than political issues. These days, unfortunately, almost everything is viewed by at least some people as a political issue. Yet people also have a right to voice their opinions – at least a right that can’t be taken away by the government.
So where does that leave HOAs? Can they prevent people from posting political signs, banners or flags outside of their homes? And, if so, just what is included? Sure, a sign for a candidate is clearly a political sign, but what about a rainbow flag or a Black Lives Matter banner?
Broader restrictions may be less problematic
Instead of focusing on the content of signage or other outdoor displays, it’s probably best to prohibit any displays in yards or on fences, patio walls, balconies and windows where they’re visible to others. You might make exceptions for holiday decorations, but there are typically time limits around those to prevent people from keeping their Christmas lights up until Valentine’s Day. The more generic the restrictions are – and the more consistently they’re enforced, the less likely your HOA is to run into complaints or litigation.
Don’t forget about the common areas. HOAs can prohibit political signage in these areas, as well as things like door-to-door solicitation for candidates or ballot measures as well as political gatherings.
It’s best to have your restrictions codified in your covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) if they aren’t already, and to do so before the next big election. When making any change to your CC&Rs, it’s always wise to get a legal review to help ensure that you’re in compliance with the law.