HOA and Obama Yard Sign

Obama Yard Sign

I have had an Obama yard sign in my front yard since the Democratic convention.

Today I got a letter from my Home Owners Association (HOA) which says:

According to the Covenants, signs are not allowed to be displayed. Please remove the election sign.

So I checked the Covenants and found the following:

No sign of any kind shall be erected by an Owner or Occupant within the Community without the prior written consent of the Architectural Review Committee. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Board and the Declarant shall have the right to erect reasonable and appropriate signs. “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs and security signs consistent with the Community-Wide Standard and any signs required by legal proceedings may be erected upon any Lot.

It looks like they have the right to erect “reasonable and appropriate” signs. I would like a similar right on reciprocal basis since I would guess that a 16” by 26” sign for a major party Presidential candidate during election season is both appropriate and reasonable. But evidently the management company that runs the HOA disagrees.

I am of a mind to send a letter to the Home Owners Association:

I did not know that the Soviet Union was alive and well here in our subdivision. I had heard of its demise some years ago. Anyway, if I am not allowed to display a political sign for the elections, please grant me permission to fly the Hammer and Sickle on the front of my house.

On a more serious note, does anyone know if there are any local (Fulton county), state (Georgia) or Federal laws which the HOA might be going against here? What is the case law like on this issue here?

I had no idea about Home Owner Associations before we bought a house last year. My first interaction with the HOA was earlier this year when we decided to do some work on part of our backyard. We wanted to install a playset and a small vegetable garden as well as grow flowering plants and grass in a part of the backyard which had nothing. This required approval by the Architectural Review Committee of the HOA and I being a law-abiding fellow submitted the application despite protests by Amber about this being our property and hence we being free to do whatever we wanted.

It took the committee 10 days to approve the project. When I talked to the head of the committee, I voiced my disapproval at the length of time they had taken to do so. He pointed out that the Covenants allowed the committee to take as many as 60 days and that the committee members had lives of their own and were doing this only as part-time volunteers. I replied that that was precisely the point, since their time (and mine) was so precious, so project approval should be almost automatic. If they didn’t see any egregious violation at first glance, they should approve it. I don’t think he got what I was trying to say.

To reiterate, what do you know of Georgia law on political signs and HOA covenants? What do you think I should do and why? Should I simply remove the sign? Should I keep it? In that case, what’ll happen and is it worth fighting for?

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. So the HOA can override the First Amendment? I’m glad I don’t have to deal with anything like that, it sounds like a bad deal all around. I did a little Googling but did not find anything directly related to your situation. My best advice would be to talk to a lawyer or see if you can find an organization near you that offers legal advice for homeowners.

    Ramadan mubarak!

  2. There’s a ton of rules in our neighborhood too. You have to ask for everything. We have been too lazy to do that part. I wonder about the signs though. I haven’t really seen any in the yards but i have by the doors. So security company’s can’t post signs? No garage sale/yard sale signs either? Seems they are just pro mccain lol.

    I don’t know if i would fight it with them but i would see what i could do. For instance, you know how people hang flags – american, fall, spring, whatever. If that is allowed, hang the sign as a flag. 🙂 You could also decorate your windows with signage. Be a pain and REALLY decorate them. They cannot tell you anything about the inside of your house. 🙂

    Did you ever do the garden? Your backyard is so hidden with a fence that i’m really surprised they care about the projects you were doing. You can’t even see the garden i’m sure. The playset i guess you can if you did it on top there but still, picky picky picky.

    Miss you guys!

  3. Bastards! Posting a sign in support of a political party on your own property is an expression of free speach. Unless it infringes someone else’s rights, they cannot force you to remove it. Fight!

  4. Customs are customs. Countries where all non-sense can be done in the name of personal freedom, some such acts are prohibited.

    Is it not true that, in Western Europe and America, a woman can walk around freely on roads in bras and a tinyest short but a man wearing sleeping suit without a covering gown is not allowed to come out in open within his own house boundary wall

  5. It just amazes me how many indivudals make a major purchase of a home and spend $110k and upwards and don’t understand what they are buying into when moving into a HOA community. I have no soft spot for people who don’t take the time to read the HOA requirments before purchasing in a HOA community. But hay got to love those people also —- I have some ocean front property in AZ…


  6. Al-Muhajabah: Since the HOA covenant is a contract between two private parties, so yes the First Amendment doesn’t apply. Some states, however, have passed laws which specifically forbid HOAs to disallow political signs.


    So security company’s can’t post signs? No garage sale/yard sale signs either? Seems they are just pro mccain lol.

    It would seem like yard sale and security company signs wouldn’t be allowed either, but everyone has a security company sign here.

    Not sure about being pro-McCain. While the area is Republican, I spotted two other Obama signs in our subdivision, but no McCain signs. May be I should put up a McCain sign to check.

    Did you ever do the garden?

    Yes, we planted some roses and other plants in the front yard and also some on the upper level of the backyard. A vegetable garden too.

    Captain Arrrgh: The fight is on.

    Dad: I haven’t heard of any sleeping suit restrictions here. LOL

    Bites85: Welcome to the blog.

    Tim: Yes, rub it in.

  7. I too was cited for my signs that I have always displayed for the last 5 years at my home in VA. But this year I go a letter too……this is a freedom of speech….but we lost that when we moved in. I so want the market to change and then we are out of here and looking for land and a smaller home so we can do what we want. Check out my story.

  8. The HOA can make its own rules. The only way around it is if you can show that they are discriminating against you based on politics, then it really IS a first amendment issue. If they are not allowing anyone to put up yard signs at all, then no, you can’t do anything about it unless you don’t mind the fines and eventual lean they can place against your house. AND THEY WILL DO THOSE THINGS TO YOU… as biden says, let me repeat that… (heh heh). Seriously, though, this question comes up time and time again, and if the HOA regulations disallow yard signs, then you can’t put one up (you can… you just get the shaft if you do). The legal precedent is in the favor of HOA rules. I would advise you to look through the coventant document and the ACC guidelines (or whatever you Association calls the regulatory documentation that goes along with your deed covenants) and see what you ARE allowed to do. Sometimes you can get away with signs in your window, sometimes not. Again, if it’s disallowed en masse by the HOA, you’ll lose every time, but if they are applying the rules in a discriminatory way, that’s a violation of law (not necessarily the 1st amendment, mind you), and if you’re willing to pay the legal fees to fight it, you may have a case. HOA suck… I’m hope I never buy a home in an HOA-regulated neighborhood again.

  9. Sorry, a few other things I thought about just after posting my previous comment… Generally, HOA rules provide for variance processes that you might explore (variances are usually one-time exclusions to a given rule, but they are generally taken on a case-by-case basis and can take forever to get approved). HOAs also usually elect their officers and board members. In big neighborhoods, it’s as corrupt as any small town hall, sometimes even worse. Still, as I said, the law is usually on the side of the HOA, but if YOU get yourself in as an officer, you might be able to maneuver the rules over time to allow for flexibility. Also, some HOAs allow for members to call for a motion, or vote, or special issue to be voted on by members. You could draw up a petition and if enough of the members agree (it can be very hard, 2/3 of all members in some cases depending on the rule you’re looking to change, sometimes, though it can be as small as a simple majority of the board), you can have the rules changed. This isn’t easy, especially if most people dislike the HOA and aren’t willing to even do things to weaken it because they feel that lends credibility to something they disagree with. None of these are things you can reasonably accomplish in a month, unfortunately, but I think its important that neighbors are willing to allow each other (and themselves) the right to express their opinions. The rationale is that signs everywhere is an eyesore, and they are, but if the rules provide a specific guideline (X size signs, placed in a specficed area of the front yard for no more than 30-days prior to election day, to be removed within 3 days of the election, etc), and you make sure to include people from all political sides in the petition process to remove any possible feeling that is just the neighborhood liberal making trouble or whatever, then you stand a good chance.

    One other thing. Don’t be “that guy” to the HOA. You’ll find living in your neighborhood can get very difficult for you when the people who do the approving (volunteer, non-professional folks) have a hard time being objective with you, and if that happens, again, there isn’t a whole lot you can do from a legal standpoint.

    Finally, if you sue your HOA remember is YOU and your neighbors that pay the bill for the HOA’s defense. You lose either way, that’s the real pisser here.

    Anyway, so, there you go 🙂 You probably have my email address somewhere in your system since I had to enter it… feel free to email me directly if you’d like to talk more.

  10. Our HOA sent us a letter reading, “Could you please move your blue BMW into your garage? Parking cars on the street is not allowed in this subdivision because it decreases the market value and dimishes the appearance of the homes.” Pardon me?

    I called them back and suggested that EVERYONE should park a BMW in front of their houses if we all want to INCREASE the value and improve the appearance of the homes in the neighborhood… but then we moved our car into the garage.

    I feel for you, dude.

  11. I know I’m late to the game, but it’s not really a 1st amendment issue – they’re not inhibiting your freedom of speech – YOU did that. By contracting to live in an HOA community, and signing on the dotted line that you accept and agree to the various restrictions in return for whatever benefits that HOA life provides. People can contract away their own rights.

  12. You should be hung for just putting up an Obama sign … talk about communist!! This stupid man is destroying the greatest nation on earth… AND YOU VOTED FOR HIM!!

    They should kick you out of the HOA for being SO STUPID!!!

  13. Being an Obama supporter, I’d think you’d have more respect for communism and forced/coerced action for the arbitrarily determined good of the community. However, since you are reconsidering your support of communism, RUN. Find a nice home in the countryside. HOAs are free to do and demand of you anything they please, short of behaving in obviously racist ways or of preventing you from have a 2′ satellite dish.

    You’re lucky that your HOA was so nice, they could have hired a lawyer to write you a letter for that sign, or even to prepare a whole legal case, and then sent you the bill for that lawyer. If you failed to pay that bill promptly, your home could be foreclosed. Think I’m joking? Check around.

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