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RE Q&A: Can We Put Candidate Signs in Front of Our Home?

State and local government sign laws apply, but signs could also be restricted by an HOA, providing the rules are written down and applied across the board.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Question: We want to put a lawn sign out in front of our home for our favorite candidate. Our homeowners association is saying no way. What about my First Amendment rights? Can they restrict this? – Barry

Answer: Political season is upon us, and many people want to show their support for their favorite candidate.

Americans like to show off their chosen candidate with a lawn sign or three. However, many people live in community associations and enjoy the uniform look and feel of their neighborhood.

Most associations ban all signs from being displayed in their community. This includes for sale signs, sports teams and, yes, even political candidates. These restrictions are allowed because the First Amendment protects us from the government restricting political speech, and while your association can sometimes feel governmental, it is a private entity that you willingly joined and agreed to live by the community’s rules.

Your association cannot just do whatever it wants. The ban on signs must be in your community documents and not just something that the new Board decided.

The restriction must also be uniformly applied. This means that your association cannot allow some candidates but not others. They also cannot allow signs for sports teams but not political candidates.

Either signs are acceptable in your neighborhood or it is not – the Board does not get to pick and choose.

If your association does not have restrictions, or you do not live in a planned community, you can put up signs on your property as long as they comply with state and local law. Lawn signs are OK, but you cannot put up a highway billboard in your yard.

It is also worth mentioning that removing your neighbor’s sign because you do not like their choice of candidate is trespassing and can expose you to criminal and civil liability.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.

© 2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.