With the primaries fast-approaching and this year’s presidential election coming up, you might be wondering, am I allowed to have political signs in my HOA?
More than 40 million households in the United States are part of homeowners associations and planned communities. If your house is one of those 40 million, you might not be allowed to post political signs in your yard — even with the rights granted to you by the first amendment.
The first amendment (freedom of religion, speech, press and the right to assemble) prevents the government from making laws that regulate your free speech. While you may think this means that your ability to post political signs on your HOA lawn is protected, the first amendment actually only applies to the government regulating your freedom, not private parties.
Your homeowners association might not have any rules saying you can’t post signs on your lawn, but if it does, they are allowed to tell you to remove your signs or receive a fine. When you purchased property in your HOA, you signed a contract stating that you agree to follow the rules and regulations presented by the association, and therefore limited your ability to political expressions of this nature.
Certain states such as Maryland prevent associations from regulating political posting on their homeowners’ property, while others like Virginia don’t have any laws stating that homeowners in HOAs may post political signs, despite covenants presented by the association.
Even though they may legally be allowed to do so, some homeowners associations may not want to enforce a ban on political signs because they don’t want to spend the time or money necessary to go through a legal battle, even though they are likely to win. Spending the limited resources of the community on such issues may not be in the best interest of the association.
In these cases, many HOAs may decide to regulate political signs rather than enforce an outright ban in order to appease homeowners who are passionate about politics and their perceived legal rights. This will allow these homeowners to express themselves politically, while still addressing the concerns of those who believe this kind of expression to be an eyesore. The HOA may limit signs so that they are not explicit or handwritten, as well as when the signs may be on display.
The answer to the question of the legality of an HOA regulating free speech in this manner isn’t clear-cut. It depends on the state you live in as well as the association you reside in. The best way to determine what restrictions an HOA can impose on its residents is to look to local ordinances of your state, city, county or town.
You can find more information on Florida’s Statutes here.