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Subject:  solicting by religous groups
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MatthewM6
(Georgia)

Posts:3


01/12/2015 9:26 AM  
The HOA that I live in has 1200 homes. Our covenant states that that there shall be "NO" soliciting. Signs are posted at each entrance. Our streets are public. Is the no soliciting that is in our covenant enforceable?
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:2622


01/12/2015 9:35 AM  
Some of our homeowners asked about that and we also had a no soliciting sign on our community entrance (we don't have one right now because it's being replaced this spring).

As I recall, there was some back and forth because free speech comes into play. That's different from, say door to door sales or soliciting for charity, so this is the stuff the Board looked to stop.

Every once in a while, people from the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons come by (we usually see the Mormons in the summer because the men are doing the missionary work) I think the Board did have the property manager send a letter to the local JW church asking them not to come into our community and I haven't seen them in years. Otherwise, it's easier to simply not open the door or say "Sorry, not interested," and shut the door before they can do or say anything else. We've found that works nearly every time.

LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/12/2015 9:44 AM  
Probably not if you are trying to keep out those promoting their religions. The word "proselytize" normally describes the activity of seeking religious converts. I do not believe that the law looks upon that in the same way as it does for commercial soliciting.

I read of one group suing a gated community claiming that their right to spread their religion was greater than the homeowners' right to privacy but I do not know the outcome.

Under the circumstances you describe, I think you would have a great deal of trouble trying to enforce a no-soliciting covenant against anyone. If the streets are public, then sales people may use them like anyone else. The association would have no power to prevent a sales person from going up to the home of a member; only the property owner can ask the person to leave. Unless the solicitor is also a member of your association you really have no control over them.

GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


01/12/2015 10:07 AM  
Shelia, I might have told this once before, if so I apologize but when I was in high school my dad worked nights, so naturally he slept during the day. One day the repeated ringing of the doorbell roused him and he threw open the door to find two Jehovah's Witnesses on the porch. There he stood, hair askew, bathrobe barely on and all he said was ("Just what I need while I'm committing adultery with the woman next door.") before slamming the door in their faces. It was years before we saw another JW but for some reason they bugged the heck out of the poor woman next door.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/12/2015 10:24 AM  
I did a little more checking on the Jehovah's Witness case against gated communities. They won.

The situation, however, was that in Puerto Rico the government authorized neighborhoods to become gated in an effort to fight crime. The gates were erected by local governments and not by associations. The JW's successfully argued that the government was preventing them from exercising their freedom of religion and the court agreed.

This was an action in the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The court's opinion can be read at
http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/11/24/puerto%20rico.pdf

MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:8408


01/12/2015 10:39 AM  
If your streets are public it's best to check with your local authorities on their solicitation policy. In my town, they finally passed a law that you have to have a permit to solicit. One has to apply to the area they plan to solicit. If they do not have a permit, then they get fined or arrested. We simply have to call the police and they will come out to investigate.

Unfortunately, when your streets became public, that means they are now under the local authority responsibility an law. Even if it is written in your HOA documents, your HOA can't enforce rules on the public. We used to have a no soliciting sign out front, but when we became public roads, we had to go to local authorities for enforcement.

You may also note that if your HOA was once "Private" and then became "Public" your documents may NOT been updated to reflect that. It takes a majority vote of members to make the changes. It may be time to bring this up if they are not up to date to reflect the new conditions.

Former HOA President
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:8556


01/12/2015 10:41 AM  
I am not nor do I play a lawyer.

Our neighborhood has a No Soliciting Allowe sign. When the religious folks come around I remind them of the sign. They say we are not soliciting. I say you are soliciting for God, your church, whatever. I inform them I am calling the police.

I do call the police but I expect no action. Just makes me feel good calling them.
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:384


01/12/2015 10:46 AM  
We encountered this situation in an association in which we previously lived. The issue was the distribution of free copies of the local newspaper by the publisher in an attempt to generate subscription sales. Some homeowners objected to the practice and asked the BOD to take it on.

The Board complained to the publisher, who took the matter to the City Attorney. The Board was told, since the streets were public, any legal activity, such as distribution of sample newspapers, Girl Scouts with cookies, Boy Scouts with popcorn, religious groups (and here in Texas it is not just those from JW or LDS, it is just as likely to be a local church), door hangars from the local dry cleaners, etc. was permitted, regardless of the posted neighborhood signs.

However, he also told the board a small (3"x5") sign posted clearly on or near the front door which stated "No Soliciting/ No Door Hangars" was allowed and the City would follow up with groups which ignored the sign.
AmandaR2
(South Carolina)

Posts:566


01/12/2015 10:57 AM  
The biggest complaint we have about this, is that some Mormons come pretty late at night and scare people. They've shown up as late as 9:00 pm! Here in SC we get all religions during the day. I realize we can't stop it but coming after dark I wish we could do something about.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3583


01/12/2015 1:57 PM  
Watchtower Society v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150 (2002)

US Supreme Court ruled in an 8–1 decision that the requirement of the Village of Stratton's ordinance for solicitors to "register" before engaging in door-to-door advocacy violated the First Amendment. The Court stated "it is offensive, not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society, that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so."

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3583


01/12/2015 5:09 PM  
Posted By NpS on 01/12/2015 1:57 PM
Watchtower Society v. Village of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150 (2002)

US Supreme Court ruled in an 8–1 decision that the requirement of the Village of Stratton's ordinance for solicitors to "register" before engaging in door-to-door advocacy violated the First Amendment. The Court stated "it is offensive, not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society, that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so."


Forgot to mention that watchtower Society was a religious organization - Important part of the case.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
JanetB2
(Colorado)

Posts:4168


01/12/2015 5:20 PM  
As others have stated if streets are public then local laws would most likely apply. My city last year after some elderly residents complained about soliciting late at night and scaring them passed an ordinance forbidding soliciting door to door after I think was about 6 or 7 pm. That could be an option for your city to pass something g similar if enough residents request.
LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


01/13/2015 12:00 AM  
Posted By NpS on 01/12/2015 5:09 PM

Forgot to mention that watchtower Society was a religious organization - Important part of the case.


Watchtower Society is Jehova's Witnesses.

AmandaR2
(South Carolina)

Posts:566


01/13/2015 6:19 AM  
Posted By JanetB2 on 01/12/2015 5:20 PM
As others have stated if streets are public then local laws would most likely apply. My city last year after some elderly residents complained about soliciting late at night and scaring them passed an ordinance forbidding soliciting door to door after I think was about 6 or 7 pm. That could be an option for your city to pass something g similar if enough residents request.



Thanks Janet, good to know something can possibly be done about it. Good tip, I'll look into it .
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