Article Courtesy of The
Daily Business Review
By Laura Manning-Hudson
Published October 14, 2020
News reports in recent weeks from around the country are indicative of an
uptick in disputes within HOA communities involving homeowners’ yard signs.
Traditionally a contentious issue around election time, today’s polarized
political environment and social movements combined with widespread societal
cabin fever caused by the pandemic have seemingly created a perfect storm
for tempers to ignite over political and solidarity signs.
In Macomb Township, Michigan, a couple has been quoted in a local TV report
alleging they were singled out by their HOA to remove their Black Lives
Matter signs while the association seemingly permitted their neighbors to
post other similar signs supporting politicians and local schools.
Reports involving HOA disputes over BLM signs also made local TV and
newspaper headlines in late July in the San Francisco bay area and New
Albany, Ohio, where an HOA issued an apology to its residents after it
posted a deadline for the specific removal of BLM yard signs on its social
In Bend, Oregon, residents recently told a local TV station they were
concerned about a demand from their HOA that solidarity signs for social
causes must come down until election time. The letter advised residents that
these signs would be viewed as political signs, which may only be displayed
on an owner’s lot for 45 days prior to an official election and must be
removed within three days after the election.
A spate of local TV news reports in Denver in early September chronicled the
brewing controversy over an HOA’s demand for residents to remove their
signs, culminating with a decision by its board of directors to reverse a
long-standing policy and allow residents to display two signs. The
association president said it had sent approximately 150 violation notices
during the prior 90 days for everything from solidarity signs for social
causes to those congratulating graduates and supporting first responders.
For most private communities controlled by associations in Florida,
practically all temporary signs including political and solidarity signs,
house for sale/rent signs, contractor signs while work is in progress, and
congratulatory and seasonal signs may be prohibited by their HOA’s governing
documents. Most community associations already have some form of sign policy
in their rules and restrictions, and complete or partial bans without
specific prior approvals by boards of directors are not uncommon.
Associations typically cite the promotion of community harmony and
maintenance of its aesthetic appeal as the reasons behind strict bans on
signs. While some communities make exceptions around election time for
political signs, others prefer the uniformity and avoidance of potential
confrontations stemming from stringent bans on most signs.
Either path has its pros and cons, and the best approach will vary by
Given the intense emotions and deeply held beliefs that characterize the
current political and social climate, boards of directors should expect
impassioned discussions on the issue at their meetings. Boards should also
be cognizant of the fact that heated disputes over sign restrictions and
takedown orders can draw negative media attention to a community.
These factors should not deter HOAs from taking a closer look at their sign
policies if the directors believe it is called for in their community.
Boards should work closely with highly qualified and experienced association
legal counsel to develop and implement a policy that makes the most sense
for their community. For communities desiring to allow signs, they should
also consider restrictions on sign size, type and number, the length of time
and timeframe during which they may be displayed, and their placement near
the front of the homes. Thought should also be given to the enforcement
measures for such regulations, including the implementation of compliance
monitoring and violation hearings with uniform penalties.
Homeowners associations for most communities of single-family homes in
Florida and across the country are very likely to encounter issues and
concerns over their sign policies. The unavoidable nature of these travails
dictates that HOAs should not shy away from them. Instead, they should take
a proactive and considered approach by hearing and discussing their
residents’ thoughts and concerns, and working with highly experienced
professionals to develop and deploy the best possible protocols for their