With election season upon us, the subject of political signs is more relevant than ever. It is at the forefront of discussions between community association leaders and residents. According to the 2020 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey conducted by Zogby Analytics for the Foundation for Community Association Research, nine out of 10 condominium and homeowners association residents typically vote in national, state, and local elections. Many want to support their preferred candidates and initiatives.

Conversations about political signs in community associations lead to questions over how they are displayed and the content of the signs. Community association boards, managers, and residents must be educated on applicable laws, case law, and their governing documents to handle these disputes appropriately.

While CAI does not have a formal policy on the display of political signs, we do believe that community association rules should be adaptable and always in compliance with applicable laws. The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech, however it only applies to government entities and state actors—not to private parties such as community associations. Due to the fact a community association is not a state actor, an association is able to adopt and enforce restrictions that reasonably regulate political and noncommercial speech within their community, unless their state laws explicitly declare otherwise.

Laws governing political signs vary from state to state. Rules vary from community to community—as they should—to reflect the preferences of the homeowners in each neighborhood. Currently, there are 13 states that have statutes regarding signage that communities must follow. If your state does not have an explicit law, be sure to review your association’s governing documents and consult with your association’s manager and attorney.

Community associations should encourage friendly and neighborly conversations on these types of important issues.

Review CAI’s resources to effectively manage rules and regulations for this hot-button issue in your community.

Phoebe E. Neseth, Esq.

Phoebe E. Neseth, Esq.

Senior Manager of Government and Public Affairs

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