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Condo | HOA Lawyers

Evaluate Your Sign Restrictions Now To Avoid Legal Issues In the Future

     As we are approaching the end of winter, it is a perfect time for boards to review their association’s governing documents and understand whether signs may be displayed outside homes in their community.  With the warmer months ahead, many owners begin renovating and enter into agreements with contractors that may require them to display advertisements outside their homes.  Then, come fall, residents may want to display signs showing their support for political candidates or other important issues. This is why winter is a great time for board members to prepare for potential sign issues they may face throughout the year.

     Sign provisions, if included in the governing documents at all, differ between each community association. Some governing documents contain very strict provisions that restrict any signs from being displayed outside the home, while others only permit “for sale” or “for rent” signs.  On the other hand, some governing documents might provide that the board or architectural committee can establish its own rules for permitted signs. If the governing documents are entirely silent on the issue, the board should be aware of that as well.

     After the board reviews its governing documents to identify the sign provision that applies, the board should evaluate its enforcement of the sign restriction as it is currently written. The board will need to consider if it has received complaints about signs in the past, whether enforcement of the sign provision has been consistent with the operational practices of the association, and whether the provision matches the conduct occurring within the community.  For example, if the sign provision states only “for sale” signs are allowed, but owners are consistently displaying pet signs for their invisible fences, or graduation and sports teams signs on their lawns, the sign provision does not reflect the community’s practices.  In this scenario, it only takes one complaint from an owner to create an issue in the community.

     To eliminate future complaints and potential legal liability to the association, we strongly recommend the board ensure the sign provision in the governing documents reads in a way that is consistent with current practices and conduct occurring in the community. Of course, if the board has any questions regarding best sign practices or needs help amending the governing documents to include a sign provision, our office of attorneys are more than capable of assisting.

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