Learn the Risks Relating to Political Signs and Displays
Another election season is upon us, and that means political signs and flags are starting to pop up. Such displays can lead to some thorny situations for community associations.
An association in North Carolina provides a good example of one risk. Local news outlets recently reported than an owner was notified that his Black Lives Matters (BLM) flag must be removed because it violates a rule prohibiting political flags.
According to one report, the association rule generally bars “signs that represent, promote, oppose, or otherwise reference or relate to any political party, political cause, issue, or idea.”
The owner claims the association allows flags expressing other views, including “thin blue line” and Blue Lives Matter flags in support of police and Gadsden (“Don’t tread on me”) flags. He has filed a discrimination claim with HUD.
The association apparently considers flags a form of signage for purposes of its prohibition. Other associations don’t take this approach, and it can lead to trouble.
“I’ve seen associations have issues over what is a flag versus signage,” says Alessandra Stivelman, a partner/shareholder in Eisinger Law in Hollywood, Fla., who focuses on real estate and association law.
“One association has an owner who leaves his garage door open and has attached controversial flags to the wall of the garage so anyone can see them from the exterior. The association had a restriction on signage, and it became an issue because the flags were being used as signage for political issues.
“The association ended up passing some rules that you can’t keep the garage open unless there’s ingress, egress, or other reasons for it to be open.”
Read the full story to learn some of the risks associated with rules regarding political signs and flags — and how your clients can help protect themselves from lawsuits and internal divisions: