Reader Questions – Can HOAs Ban Political, Patriotic or Religious Displays?Aug 16, 2020
We (along with our neighbors) put out candidate and ballot measure signs prior to our elections. We looked into this several years ago and it appears that California law allows all HOA residents to display political signs during elections. However, friends who live in other San Diego County HOAs have told me repeatedly that their HOAs do not allow political signs during elections. Can you provide an update on this? Can HOAs prohibit political signs during an election?
Thank you. N.H., Encinitas
Good morning Kelly:
Are you allowed to fly a party flag (such as Trump/Pence 2020) if you reside in an HOA? I contacted our HOA management two times and they never returned my call.
K.F., San Clemente
Dear N.H. and K.F.:
HOA residents have the right under Civil Code Section 4710 to display non-commercial signs, posters, flags, and banners in or on their property (“separate interests”), so long as the signs or posters are not larger than 9 square feet and flags or banners are not larger than 15 square feet. Signs or posters may not be made of lights, building materials, balloons or flowers, or be painted on a surface.
In a planned development, the “separate interest” is normally the lot, and so putting a sign or flag on the front yard would be protected. However, in a condominium the front yard probably is an exclusive use common area – not part of the separate interest – so the location is significant.
Thanks for your questions- Kelly
Dear Kelly: I live in a gated community.
I am a veteran and had an American pole flag attached to our unit flying since we purchased our home. I installed the brackets for the flag with short lead anchors so as not to penetrate the stucco water-proof membrane.
I received a violation letter from the board saying I have to remove the flag.
From my perspective this doesn’t make sense.
Can you give me some advice?
Sincerely, V.L., San Diego
Civil Code Section 4705, which became law in 2013, protects the right of homeowners to display the United States flag on a pole, a staff, or in a window. Unlike Civil Code Section 4710, there is no specification of the protected maximum size of the United States flag. The flag may be displayed on or in the separate interest or in the member’s exclusive use common area. If your residence is a condominium, the exterior surface of the building is probably common area. Check your condominium plan to confirm. However, is installing the bracket on the exterior wall an installation “on” the separate interest? It may be.
The HOA may ask you to sign an agreement promising to restore the exterior wall if the bracket is ever removed, but hopefully once the HOA realizes the flag itself is protected, the issue will be considered resolved.
Thanks for your question, Kelly
[Readers: A new law this year protects religious displays on entry doors or entry door frames. This protection, found in Civil Code Section 4706, has no limit on size or materials, but does allows HOAs to require a member to temporarily remove the item while work is being performed on the door.]
Written by Kelly G. Richardson
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected]. Past columns at www.hoahomefront.com. All rights reserved®.