HOAs Cannot Prevent Political Signs, But They Can Regulate Them

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A funny presidential candidate sign from October 2016 says, “Darth Vader: Together we can rule the galaxy.”

Some Texas cities could have hosted four different elections, including the race for congressional seats and the Presidential election, by the end of the year. During any election, it isn’t abnormal to see residential neighborhoods lined with signs of each resident’s preferred candidate or ballot measure — some houses with dozens in their front yard.

A few residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have already complained that their HOAs have asked them to remove political signs from their yards. They believe it’s a violation of their First Amendment right, and they are correct.

Can an HOA prevent political signs from being placed in residential yards? Not in Texas.

Some could argue that residents signed a contract, knowing they couldn’t place political signs in their yard. This doesn’t matter in Texas; it’s a violation of Texas Election Code §259.002 to even try to restrict it.

“Sec. 259.002. Except as otherwise provided by this section, a property owners’ association may not enforce or adopt a restrictive covenant that prohibits a property owner from displaying on the owner’s property one or more signs advertising a candidate or measure for an election: on or after the 90th day before the date of the election to which the sign relates; or before the 10th day after that election date.”

-Texas Election Code Sec. 259.002.

This means the State of Texas protects political signs starting 90 days before election day through the 10 days following the election — no matter what. This is freedom of political expression and cannot be regulated by an HOA.

However, the statute “does not prohibit the enforcement or adoption of a covenant that: requires a sign to be ground-mounted; or limits a property owner to displaying only one sign for each candidate or measure.”

HOAs can also limit the size of political signs to four-by-six feet; can regulate how the sign is placed — for example, ground-mounted — and can limit the signage to one sign per candidate or ballot measure.

Texas also allows associations to ban language or images in political signs which “would be offensive to the ordinary person.”

This section does not prohibit the enforcement or adoption of a covenant that prohibits a sign that: contains roofing material, siding, paving materials, flora, one or more balloons or lights, or any other similar building, landscaping, or nonstandard decorative component; is attached in any way to plant material, a traffic control device, a light, a trailer, a vehicle, or any other existing structure or object; includes the painting of architectural surfaces; threatens the public health or safety; is larger than four feet by six feet; violates a law; contains language, graphics, or any display that would be offensive to the ordinary person; or is accompanied by music or other sounds or by streamers or is otherwise distracting to motorists.

-Texas Election Code Sec. 259.002.

CandysDirt.com wrote about a case in October 2018, in which a man was asked to take down his political sign because it was “offensive.”

All in all, Texas associations cannot prevent signs from being placed in a yard, but they most definitely can regulate them.

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Brandi Addison

Brandi Addison was born and raised in Fort Worth and is making her way back to the Panther City after living away from home for nearly five years while attending college at Texas Tech University. After graduating, she was an education reporter for the Midland Reporter-Telegram. She loves the Fort Worth community and the diversity within each of its neighborhoods. Her favorite areas are Clearfork, Fairmount, and the Cultural District.

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Comments

  1. dh watson says

    What about cities regulating political signs, too? For example, I believe Addison has regulations similar to those desired by HOA’s. Are Addison’s rules also against Texas law?

  2. John Nichols says

    Does anyone know if an HOA board can endorse a candidate for an upcoming board election? If so, please cite the law or code.
    What about a non-profit? HOAs are non-profits. Are non-profit boards allowed to endorse a candidate in an election for an expiring seat on that same Board?
    I’m believe by endorsing one candidate, my Board is defaming another. Any thoughts on this?

    Thank you.
    John
    (713)306-4389

  3. thomas burrows says

    Is is possible for an HOA to allow certain candidates or political parties to place campaign signs in HOA common areas, but not other candidates or political parties campaign material?

    To me this would present a QUID PRO QUO scenario. No HOA is going to support one candidate over another candidate without expecting something in RETURN.

  4. Robert G Wood says

    We live in a retirement subdivision, that happens to be all manufactured homes. While technically we could be called a “Mobile Home Park”….we are pretty far from the common perception of that. We all own our own homes…and most of the 130 or so homes can retail for $150K to 180K when they are sold (by we the owners). What we do not own is the land that is under them. My question is: Could it be that the HOA (we have never formed one here) State Election Law concerning posting political signs…Election Code 259.002….apply to us, as it does for an HOA situation? It would seem that, at the very least, if it does not apply to us placing a political sign in the physical ground (which we pay a monthly fee to lease), it ought to apply to placing a sign onto our home (which we own). Any thoughts… or precedent anyone knows about?

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