Election season is upon us and political signs are popping up everywhere. While many co-owners believe they have a first amendment right to put up political signs in a condominium, they should think again as a condominium association is not a governmental entity that is required to afford first amendment rights to its co-owners. While some states have laws that prohibit condominium and homeowner associations from restricting political signs, Michigan is not one of them. While MCL 559.156a and the Federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act, 4 USC §5, prohibit a condominium association or developer from restricting the display of an American flag, a condominium association or developer is well within its rights to completely prohibit and/or adopt restrictions relating to political signs. As such, the language of the condominium documents will determine whether political signs are allowed. If the condominium documents do not address political signs, an association would be wise to amend its bylaws and/or adopt rules and regulations relating to political signs prior to election season when co-owners will inevitably begin displaying political signs.
Even if the condominium documents allow for political signs, associations and co-owners should be aware that most condominium documents have provisions that prohibit illegal activity. Many municipalities have adopted local ordinances that deal with the political signs as well, ranging from setting time frames as to when political signs can be displayed to restricting the size of political signs. Accordingly, even if the condominium documents allow for political signs, it is prudent to check with your local municipality to ensure that signs are posted in compliance with local ordinances as well.