Election years can be an interesting time for everyone. It is natural for people to want to show support for their preferred candidates, but associations also typically want to set reasonable ground rules for the acceptable ways to display political signs in the community. A community governed by a homeowner’s association (HOA) is governed by its declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). In addition, everyone who joins the community has to adhere to specific rules and regulations and bylaws. As community members start to post political signs and show their support, the community association and board has a responsibility to set reasonable ground rules for everyone. To help with navigating this election year and get any association ready, we put together an overview of HOA political yard sign rules in Arizona.
Arizona Political Yard Sign Rules – An Overview
Elections will come and go, but associations and board members need to find ways to maintain peace and stability for the community. Elections can get very heated. To assist the HOA in supporting the community with fair and reasonable ways to display political signs, here are examples of signs and boards protected by Arizona law and how an HOA can place reasonable regulations on them. Arizona law provides that HOAs must allow owners to display political signs in areas under their control, such as their yard.
- Duration of Protected Political Signs – The Arizona Planned Community Act and the Condominium Act provide laws related to political signs in HOAs. In Arizona, HOAs must allow homeowners to display political signs on their lots beginning 71 days before the day of a primary election lasting up to 15 days after the general election. If the candidate does not advance to the general election, the sign must be removed no later than 15 days after the primary election.
- Do’s and Don’ts of Political Signage by HOAs – In Arizona, HOAs can regulate the number of political signs that homeowners can have on their property, provided that the local ordinance which regulates the activity permits such restrictions. Likewise, the size of the signs can also be regulated by HOAs. However, it is noteworthy to remember that HOAs cannot be more restrictive than any local sign ordinance and cannot contradict the state laws that protect political signs. Additionally, HOAs can generally restrict political signs if they meet any of the following conditions:
- Signs that contain roofing material, plants, balloons, paving materials and lights
- Political signs attached to plants, traffic signs, vehicles, and other similar objects
- Signs painted on architectural surfaces
- Signs that threaten public safety
- Signs that include hate speech or discriminatory language
- Signs that distract drivers through music, noise, or steamers
- Political displays that violate the law
- Common Areas – HOAs in Arizona can prohibit the display of political signage in public spaces like parks, playgrounds or pool areas
- Number of Signs – If the city, town, or county does not regulate the size or number of the political signs, the HOA cannot limit the number of political signs, but may limit the maximum aggregate total dimensions of all political signs on that owners property to no more than 9 square feet.
Arizona associations and planned communities should not assume that state and local laws mean they do not need to address the matter of political signs in the community directly. It is important to at least make clear what laws apply to the members in the association and certainly helps to detail in writing what is expected of all members. If your community is considering some updates or changes to the rules and regulations for political signs, it is important to review the plans with an experienced HOA attorney in Arizona and have the updates drafted and implemented with the assistance of professionals focused on the potential legal impacts.
Simple Steps for Smooth Implementation of HOA Political Yard Sign Rules
- Research is Key – Although we have mentioned the rules and regulations regarding political signs in the above section, they may vary by local ordinances. Therefore, it is necessary that as an HOA board member, you take the time to research the state and local laws in terms of size, number, and type of signposts permitted on private property. If your association does not work with a law firm that specializes in HOA representation, this is a perfect opportunity to find the right HOA lawyer to help with the process.
- Clarity in CC&Rs – Typically, HOA rules on political signs come with reasonable checks and balances. They can allow residents to display their political opinions fairly and reasonably. These rules and regulations should be clearly detailed in the CC&Rs, and should not distract from the neighborhood’s appeal. Therefore, it is imperative to go through what your CC&Rs say to make sure that you are correctly enforcing the rules and the regulations are clearly understood by community members.
- Set Timeframes – Most governing documents include a timeframe of when homeowners can put up a political sign and have to bring them down in compliance with Arizona law. As an HOA board member, it is your duty to make the people of your community aware of the rules so that they are respectful of the time frames and make sure the rules are being followed.
- Handling Difficult Requests – Similar to all HOA issues, it is essential to work with residents respectfully. When someone is violating an Arizona state law or an HOA political yard sign rule, the key is to be civil and candid about the matter. Make sure that you have a copy of the CC&Rs and that you assist the resident in understanding the rules. Lastly, make sure that you enforce the rules equally and never take a sign down arbitrarily, irrespective of your political opinion.
Review HOA Policies with an Arizona HOA Law Firm
Most rules and regulations around political yard signs are straightforward if the community follows Arizona and local guidelines. However, any HOA that is considering making changes to their governing documents and community rules should consult with an Arizona HOA law firm to make sure they are in compliance. The board of directors for any HOA has an obligation to make sure the community follows state and federal laws. The attorneys at Halk, Oetinger, and Brown only represent Arizona homeowners associations and planned communities. We can review any proposed changes and help keep your community compliant with all applicable laws. Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule a consultation or make an appointment on our contact us page.