Yard signs, decorative flags,
banners, and emblems can depict virtually any individual interest, such as political
preferences, religious beliefs, national heritage, holidays, seasons,
universities, and athletic teams. Community association rules limiting this
form of speech are developed and enforced to preserve community values.
Political signs in community
associations, particularly during election seasons, often receive a lot of
attention in local news and on social media. During an already contentious
time, the issue can divide communities. Part of what drives the discussion is confusion
over what laws or rules apply: The First Amendment? State or local laws? Community
CAI does not have a formal
policy on the display of signs. However, we do believe that community
association rules should be adaptable and always in compliance with applicable
As many are quick
to point out, the First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech.
However, the law applies only to restrictions on speech by the government, not
to limitations by private parties such as community associations and employers,
and most certainly not to limitations that have been agreed to by contract.
have laws governing political signs, and these statutes would take
precedence over community association rules.
Unless a state law explicitly
declares otherwise, a community association would be able to adopt and enforce
restrictions that reasonably regulate political signs. These rules can—and should—vary
from community to community to reflect the preferences of the homeowners in
When allowed under local and
state law, CAI supports reasonable rules that may restrict the display of a political
sign. An association may develop a rule that prohibits the display of signs
altogether or one that limits the time period during which a sign may be
displayed. The rule may cover, among other terms, how many days before an
election or vote a sign may be displayed and how many days post-election a sign
needs to be taken down.
CAI calls upon community
association volunteer leaders, professional community managers, residents, and
attorneys to review governing documents periodically and work together to create
rules that will bring the community closer together.
To help community association boards
of directors navigate these important conversations, CAI created Rights
& Responsibilities for Better Communities and the
Community Association Civility Pledge. We encourage community association
boards to adopt these principles and engage these practices.
CAI media contact: Amy Repke, (703) 970-9239,