The BS Show 8.22.22: Political Signs in a Homeowners Association, and More

The BS Show 8.22.22: Political Signs in a Homeowners Association, and More

Monday morning means another discussion with Bob Sansevere, host of The BS Show, and today’s discussion focused a bit closer to home.

In their classic 1970’s hit “Stuck in the Middle With You”, the band Stealer’s Wheel famously sang the line “clowns to the left of me; jokers to the right.” I seriously have to wonder if whoever wrote that line lived within a neighborhood governed by a homeowner’s association.

It seems that every election cycle since my wife and I moved to our current home in an HOA controlled neighborhood, I have to deal with some jackass who thinks his or her Google search is better than my law degree and who takes issue with us posting candidate signs in our front yard. We even had our then management company dumb enough to bite back in 2010 and cite our house for a violation (which was later reversed, of course), which inspired me to do a blog post on the topic, and every two years, it seems as if I have to repost this somewhere.

So, welcome to the new and improved 2022 edition, which was the focus of my discussion with Bob on today’s show (in addition to discussing my shooting a golf ball out of a cannon and advising Dr. Scott Jensen on how to get Governor Walz to stop “ducking” debates). This time, the ignorant neighbor in question bypassed complaining to the management company and instead chose to yell at my wife from his driveway. When she shot back at him he quickly scurried into the passenger seat of a vehicle and sped off. Suffice it to say, he’s about to find out what his neighbor does for a living and what the rule and law is on this subject.

To reiterate what the law is in Minnesota, the general rule is that local ordinances can me more restrictive than state statutes, and association covenants can be more restrictive than local ordinances.  However, when it comes to a state general election year in Minnesota  (i.e., any even numbered year), the general rule is reversed.

Minnesota Statutes Section 211B.045 states that “In any municipality, whether or not the municipality has an ordinance that regulates the size or number of noncommercial signs, all noncommercial signs of any size may be posted in any  number from August 1 in a state general election year until ten days following the state general election.”  Hence, in my case, where our association’s covenants permits campaign signs until 60 days prior to the general election, 211B.045 supersedes the provision in our covenants.

Similarly, in apartment-style condominium associations, another Minnesota statutory provision overrides restrictions on access to the building for political candidates.

Minnesota Statutes Section 211B.20 states that “It is unlawful for a person, either directly or indirectly, to deny access to an apartment house, dormitory, nursing home, manufactured home park, other multiple unit facility used as a residence, or an area in which two or more single-family dwellings are located on private roadways to a candidate who has filed for election to public office or to campaign workers accompanied by the candidate, if the candidate and workers seeking admittance to the facility do so solely for the purpose of campaigning.  A violation of this section is a petty misdemeanor.”

When it comes to homeowner associations, care must be taken to let the balance between preserving order with residents’ private property rights not skew too far to the order preservation side.  When it comes to the election year issues discussed above, not only are property rights at issue, but also the homeowners’ first amendment rights of free speech and free expression.  Hence the state preemption of local restrictions, including those included in homeowner association governing documents.

For more information on these statutes, you can visit the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website.

To listen to my previous appearances on The BS Show, please check out the BS Show page of this site.

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