Can A Landlord Take Down Your Political Sign? (Find Out Now!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Politics has become a hot-button item in the United States. Our country has never been so divided over political beliefs, and it’s gotten to the point that many people prefer to advertise which side their own. As homeowners, that’s generally okay. When you rent, things get different. Landlords don’t always like signs on their property. Can they remove them, though?

Landlords can force tenants to take down both window and yard signs provided that there is verbiage in their rental agreement barring ALL political signs. A landlord is not allowed to allow one type of political signage over another.

There is a very fine line between protecting your First Amendment rights and your ability to be a good tenant. Before you hang up that sign, it’s time to take a closer look at where your rights end and your responsibilities begin.

Before We Begin: A Legal Disclaimer

When it comes to matters of rental policies and similar issues, the best route that you can take is to hire a lawyer if you feel your rights are infringed. While we can offer some good advice, we are not a substitute for legal counsel. Every state and city has its own rules relating to what a landlord can and cannot do.

In almost every part of the country, the rental contract is going to dictate what you can and cannot do. If your rental agreement bars the use of political signs, then you cannot place a sign in your lawn or window.

How Common Are Measures Going Against Political Signage?

Believe it or not, almost every landlord agreement will have something telling you not to post political signs in your yard and windows. This is primarily because politics can cause arguments between neighbors, especially in today’s heated environment. Moreover, it can be an eyesore.

In some cases, it’s not even the landlord’s decision to bar the signs. It can be a matter of the local town ordinances, too. Either way, if you see verbiage that bars political signs or ornaments, it’s best to heed the warning.

Aren’t Political Signs Protected By The First Amendment?

Political signage is always going to be protected by the First Amendment. You have a right to free speech, and that includes stating your political opinions. However, that does not mean that you are allowed to turn your home into an eyesore or cause a public nuisance with your signage.

The First Amendment is there for PUBLIC institutions. It says that you cannot get arrested for voicing your opinion. It does not say that you won’t face consequences for doing things that go against the guidelines of a business. In this case, apartments are businesses. They are privately-owned residences that you are renting out.

How Can You Tell If You Can Post Political Signs Near Your Apartment?

Politics are one of the few things that you really should avoid broaching if you want to rent long-term. You should really think twice before you post a sign outside your apartment. However, if you want to find out, the easiest way to figure out your rules is to look at the rental agreement. If that doesn’t work, call up your landlord and ask.

What Should You Do If You Feel You’re Being Singled Out Via Politics?

Let’s say that you want to post a sign, but are told that you can’t. The next day, you find that your neighbors have posted signs for the opposite political party with your landlord’s blessing. You (rightfully) feel singled out. You might be wondering what you can do. Here’s what we would suggest:

  • Take photos of the signs outside your apartment. Ideally, you will take photos of both your rejected signs and the signs that were applicable. Take note if your signs are about a specific cause related to a protected group of people, too.
  • Ask your landlord why your neighbors’ signs are allowed and yours are not. This should be something you ask via email or mail. You want to have a paper trail that proves something isn’t right. Should you go to court, this is what will protect you from losing your case.
  • If your landlord cannot give you a normal reply, then you might want to call a real estate lawyer. While landlords are given the right to tell people not to put political signs on the property, they are not allowed to play favorites. So, no, they can’t give the thumbs up to a Republican sign but turn you down.

Can You Sue For Discrimination?

You sometimes can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Obviously, this is usually a “principle of the thing” type of matter. People don’t want to give people who discriminate leeway. However, a lawsuit against a landlord can make your living situation rough. You may want to avoid doing this just because of the headache it can give.

It’s important to remember that a discrimination lawsuit will only work if there is actual discrimination afoot. Being told you can’t hang a sign because no one else is allowed to do that isn’t discrimination.

Can A Landlord Evict You For Posting Signs?

In the vast majority of cases, your landlord will not want to evict you for posting political signs on the property. It’s a major loss of income and can actually drag out a problem. However, they technically have the right to if they want to get you out of your apartment.

This is technically a breach of contract. When you decided to rent an apartment in your area, you agreed to the terms set forth in the contract. If you post a political sign when no signs are allowed, you reneged on your side of the agreement. This gives your landlord the right to kick you out.

Is Posting A Political Sign In Front Of Your Apartment A Good Idea?

If I’m going to be completely honest, this is the true question of the day. Sadly, I don’t think the answer is yes. It’s usually better to avoid bringing politics into your living situation. Here’s why I am telling you this:

  • There’s a risk of alienating neighbors. Apartments are a form of living that require you to be on good terms with the people next door. You share walls with them, ya know!
  • Some neighbors might actually try to target you as a result of your beliefs. We’ve all heard of people who have picked fights or even harmed properties as a result of political beliefs. Showing your beliefs can spark serious rage in people who are unstable.
  • It can also cause your landlord grief. Landlords do not want to deal with neighbors’ complaints about political statements that make them feel uncomfortable. Putting up signs can cause complaints to your neighbors.
  • In some cases, it could also get you fined or evicted. If your landlord does not want to deal with signs on their property, they may give you a warning. Or, they may hit you where it hurts and tell you that you have to pay a fine for every day the sign is up. Either way, do you really want to risk it?

Can Your Town Mandate A Maximum Sign Size?

Sometimes, the reason for your sign’s denial deals with the size of the sign. Most areas in the United States will have mandates that max out how large a sign can be before it’s labeled a nuisance. If your sign is too large for your area, just get a smaller sign with the same message. Just like that, your problem is solved.

Related Questions

Are Nazi flags protected by the First Amendment?

Yes and no. Nazi flags are not banned as a part of the nation’s discourse, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come with consequences. Companies (like apartment landlords) and HOAs have the right to bar Nazi flags from being displayed in a home.  If you display a white nationalist flag as a way to intimidate or terrorize neighbors, then you could also get sued for harassment.

Can condos and HOAs ban the use of political signs?

Whether or not your HOA can ban the display of political signage widely depends on the part of the country you live in. In New York, condos and regular housing HOAs have the right to ban political signage outside the home. In New Jersey, this is not the case. Each state has its own laws. In some cases, each city even has its own laws too.

Can cities regulate political signs too?

Yep. Both cities and other forms of municipalities have the right to establish laws regarding political signs and other signage. This is particularly true when it comes to signs that could be misconstrued as traffic signs. In most cases, cities will use this to mandate the maximum size of a political sign or the maximum number of signs you can hang up.If your city barred political signage, then it’s best to listen to the local mandates. Otherwise, you might get fines.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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