Will Texas Property Code stop HOA from taking down political campaign signs?

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

With the midterm election season upon us, Texans who reside in private communities need to be reminded that, according to state law, a homeowners’ association (HOA) cannot prohibit the display of political campaign signs on their property. Or can they? Read on to find out.

Beaumont residents turn to social media after political sign controversy

As local and statewide races heat up political signs have popped up in yards all over Southeast Texas as many believe they have the right to show support for their favorite candidates.

Author: Parris Kane
Published: 4:47 PM CDT September 14, 2018
Updated: 6:45 PM CDT September 14, 2018

BEAUMONT — It appears there are problems with political signs in Beaumont and some residents have taken to social media to complain with some saying their political signs have been removed from their yards.

As local and statewide races heat up political signs have popped up in yards all over Southeast Texas as many believe they have the right to show support for their favorite candidates.

Read more (Video):
https://www.12newsnow.com/article/news/local/beaumont-residents-turn-to-social-media-after-political-sign-controversy/502-594503126

According to Sec. 202.009, REGULATION OF DISPLAY OF POLITICAL SIGNS, although your HOA cannot prohibit political signs outright, your HOA may set certain guidelines, for example:

1) Signs can be displayed 90 days before the election, and taken down within 10 days after the election. So the signs can be prohibited if they are put up too soon before an election or taken down too late following the election.

2) Political signs are to be ground mounted, without any adornments or enhancements such as balloons, streamers, audio or video devices, etc. They cannot be placed in such a way as to create a health or safety risk, such as blocking the view of drivers at an intersection.

3) The size of each sign must be no larger than four feet by six feet. And no more than one sign for each candidate or ballot issue.

 

Political Campaign signs
(Pixabay.com)

OK, these seem like reasonable restrictions, and, if adopted by your HOA, they are specific enough to be enforceable.

However, Texas Property Code also contains one vague restriction upon political signs:

This section does not prohibit the enforcement or adoption of a covenant that prohibits a sign that:

contains language, graphics, or any display that would be offensive to the ordinary person;

Can somebody please define what would be “offensive to the ordinary person?”

This is where a state law that supposedly protects the rights of residents of HOAville goes astray, especially when the statuTe also includes the following provision:

A property owners’ association may remove a sign displayed in violation of a restrictive covenant permitted by this section.

Can you predict how this will play out in association-governed communities across the state of Texas?

Homeowners will place political signs on their lawns about hot-button issues such as abortion, religious liberties, same sex marriage, or building a wall on the Mexican border. Someone in the community will find the language or accompanying graphics “offensive.” It’s almost guaranteed in a divisive political culture, where nearly half of the U.S. population craves “safe spaces” to avoid seeing or hearing anything that might be remotely controversial or upsetting.

And, within hours, the HOA will remove “offensive” political signs. So much for free speech.

You see, the Texas Legislature, in “protecting” free speech rights of its residents, has managed to simultaneously grant your HOA yet another virtually unlimited power, and a gaping loophole that allows the HOA to get around Statute 202.009, without overtly breaking the law.

Don’t agree with your HOA’s determination that your political signs are “offensive?” So sue them, if you dare.

But keep in mind that, even if you were to prove that your political signs were completely benign, Texas Property Code creates no meaningful consequence for the HOA that oversteps its authority.

It’s yet another example of ineffective HOA regulation by Statute.

Happy campaign season in Texas. This could get very interesting.

 

 

 

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