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Subject: Election Signs and The Maryland HOA Act
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Author Messages
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/23/2010 2:54 PM  
I have posted a portion of the Maryland HOA Act which deals with election signs:

(here is the link to it in case what I paste here is not formatted properly: hxxp://www.reesbroome.com/associations/files/statutes/Maryland%20Homeowners%20Assoc%20Act.pdf)

My question: Lets assume an HOA's covenants state the somewhat standard "Only For-sale, or For-rent signs allowed" with no other references to signage. No rules or regs mentions signage either.

Clearly this act allows for homeowners to post candidate signs despite existing covenants. The part I am unclear about is section (C)(2) and (C)(3). My interpretation is that if the county or state makes no mention of how soon before and after an election takes place may a sign be up, the HOA may then have a regulation that adheres to the 30/7 day spec mentioned in (C)(3). Does my intepretation make sense?

Question 1:

So now lets say the county has a 60/10 (before/after) day rule on signs posted. Does that mean the HOA can inact a 30/7 rule/refulation?

Question 2:

Further, lets say the county/state has no rule on when a sign can be posted can an HOA simply force homeowners to abide by the 30/7 regulation without actually going through the process of creating a new rule/reg (which I realize is not difficult)?

For my particular situation, our county has stated that it no longer has restrictions on when a sign can be placed - it can be up 365 days a year (this was based on a Federal court order). To me that says that an HOA in this county can not enforce a regulation that deals with a specified time before and after an election that a sign can be up.

Even if my contention above is wrong, can an HOA by default apply the allowed for 30/7 day rule without ever incoporating it into its CCR's?

(Uggg sorry for the long winded post)




----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
§ 11B-111.2. Candidate or proposition sign.

(a) In general. -- In this section, “candidate sign” means a sign on behalf of a candidate for public office or a slate of candidates for public office.


(b) Exceptions. -- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may not restrict or prohibit the display of:

(1) A candidate sign; or

(2) A sign that advertises the support or defeat of any question submitted to thevoters in accordance with the Election Law Article.

(c) Restriction. -- A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:

(1) In the common areas;

(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or

(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:

(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and

(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/24/2010 1:31 AM  
IMO, yes they can limit the time a sign can be up but they must do it either by amending the Covenants and/or By-Laws or by enacting a rule.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/24/2010 4:59 AM  
Posted By GlenL on 07/24/2010 1:31 AM
IMO, yes they can limit the time a sign can be up but they must do it either by amending the Covenants and/or By-Laws or by enacting a rule.




Glen,

I really appreciate your response - thanks. I recognize it was a bit of a long read.

I agree with you, that a rule must be enacted before the 30/7 day stipulation can be enforced - IE the 30/7 day portion is not a "default" position that automatically applies.

This is the part that is confusing to me:

(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or

(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law
of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:

(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and

(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.

The "or" at the end of section (2) is subtle but very important. To me that is saying that if a county does specify a time period that a sign can be up, the HOA is not entitled to creat a 30/7 rule. In our case the county specifies that a sign may be up 365 days per year. With that said, I do not see how our HOA can enact the 30/7 day rule

JeanneK3
(Maryland)

Posts:562


07/24/2010 7:00 AM  
Terry:
Maryland State law always trumps county or HOA documents. 30/7 is it no matter how you amend your documents. See http://www.marylandhomeownersassociation.info/Site/FAQS.html
for more information.
You are correct that this doesn't apply to For Sale or other signs and your documents should address those situations.
Jeanne
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/24/2010 7:39 AM  
Thanks Jeanne. I saw your previous posts on the MD HOA act and was hoping you would chime in.

It is my understanding that there is no state law on when a sign can go up. In Baltimore County, there is a law that states a candidate sign may be placed 365 days a year.

My understanding of this act is that because the county specifies a rule on when signs can be placed, an HOA has no opportunity to create a 30/7 regulation. If the state and county are silent on when a sign can go up the act affords an HOA the right to create a 30/7 rule. Am I interpreting the act correctly?
JeanneK3
(Maryland)

Posts:562


07/24/2010 8:01 AM  
Good Grief. I just read your post more carefully. I can't believe Baltimore County allows candidate signs 365 days a year but if it does, then you are correct, a sign can be up all year. What an unsightly mess that will be!
Jeanne
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/24/2010 8:15 AM  
Posted By JeanneK3 on 07/24/2010 8:01 AM
Good Grief. I just read your post more carefully. I can't believe Baltimore County allows candidate signs 365 days a year but if it does, then you are correct, a sign can be up all year. What an unsightly mess that will be!
Jeanne




Up until a challenge a few months ago B County had a 45 day rule. There was a Federal court order saying that elections are a continous event and it is a violation of one's rights to specify * time period b4 an election. Seems silly, but I sort of understanof understand. It really is not a big deal 99.5% of the time - but in rare cases, a homeowner could get carried away.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/24/2010 9:51 AM  
Terry,

IMO, the HOA must abide by the Maryland HOA Act statute -- period. And, no, your gov docs do not need to be amended to incorporate this change. State statutes always trump the HOAs gov docs unless the statute states otherwise.

Regarding co code, the HOA's requirements can be more restrictive they just cannot be in violation of the co code.
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/25/2010 3:25 PM  
Posted By MaryA1 on 07/24/2010 9:51 AM
Terry,

IMO, the HOA must abide by the Maryland HOA Act statute -- period. And, no, your gov docs do not need to be amended to incorporate this change. State statutes always trump the HOAs gov docs unless the statute states otherwise.

Regarding co code, the HOA's requirements can be more restrictive they just cannot be in violation of the co code.




Mary - Thanks for your response. I was not aware of the fact that the HOA covenants could be more restrictive than county code. It does make sense, but I have a question. In this case our county specifies that 8 signs, no more than 8 sq ft each, may be displayed for 365 days a year. From what you said, what is stopping an HOA from saying that a sign can only be posted 2 hours before and 1 hous after an election, and the sign cannot be bigger than 3 sq inches?
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/25/2010 4:17 PM  
Posted By TerryJ1 on 07/25/2010 3:25 PM
Posted By MaryA1 on 07/24/2010 9:51 AM
Terry,

IMO, the HOA must abide by the Maryland HOA Act statute -- period. And, no, your gov docs do not need to be amended to incorporate this change. State statutes always trump the HOAs gov docs unless the statute states otherwise.

Regarding co code, the HOA's requirements can be more restrictive they just cannot be in violation of the co code.




Mary - Thanks for your response. I was not aware of the fact that the HOA covenants could be more restrictive than county code. It does make sense, but I have a question. In this case our county specifies that 8 signs, no more than 8 sq ft each, may be displayed for 365 days a year. From what you said, what is stopping an HOA from saying that a sign can only be posted 2 hours before and 1 hous after an election, and the sign cannot be bigger than 3 sq inches?




Terry,

Nothing! As long as the HOAs restriction does not allow something that is prohibited by co. code, it should be OK. Now that takes care of the co. code, but I strongly suggest you check out the HOA state laws. Some states are now coming out with statutes addressing political signs primarily because the legislators want their election campaign signs put in everyone's yard, you know. AZ has such a law and it states, in part: "An assn may regulate the size and number of political signs that may be placed on a member's property if the assn's regulation is no more restrictive than any applicable city, town or co ordinance that regulates the size and number of political signs on residential property." Note that it says the assn's regulation CANNOT BE MORE RESTRICTIVE than city/co code.

GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/25/2010 4:33 PM  
Posted By TerryJ1 on 07/24/2010 4:59 AM
Posted By GlenL on 07/24/2010 1:31 AM
IMO, yes they can limit the time a sign can be up but they must do it either by amending the Covenants and/or By-Laws or by enacting a rule.




Glen,

I really appreciate your response - thanks. I recognize it was a bit of a long read.

I agree with you, that a rule must be enacted before the 30/7 day stipulation can be enforced - IE the 30/7 day portion is not a "default" position that automatically applies.

This is the part that is confusing to me:

(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or

(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law
of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:

(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and

(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.

The "or" at the end of section (2) is subtle but very important. To me that is saying that if a county does specify a time period that a sign can be up, the HOA is not entitled to creat a 30/7 rule. In our case the county specifies that a sign may be up 365 days per year. With that said, I do not see how our HOA can enact the 30/7 day rule




Terry from my research, I can find no law that a sign may be up 365 days but rather the statute that limited the time a sign may be up was found to be void. Therefore the HOA would have the option of enacting a covenant to restrict the time a sign could be up.

Posted By TerryJ1 on 07/25/2010 3:25 PM
Posted By MaryA1 on 07/24/2010 9:51 AM
Terry,

IMO, the HOA must abide by the Maryland HOA Act statute -- period. And, no, your gov docs do not need to be amended to incorporate this change. State statutes always trump the HOAs gov docs unless the statute states otherwise.

Regarding co code, the HOA's requirements can be more restrictive they just cannot be in violation of the co code.




Mary - Thanks for your response. I was not aware of the fact that the HOA covenants could be more restrictive than county code. It does make sense, but I have a question. In this case our county specifies that 8 signs, no more than 8 sq ft each, may be displayed for 365 days a year. From what you said, what is stopping an HOA from saying that a sign can only be posted 2 hours before and 1 hous after an election, and the sign cannot be bigger than 3 sq inches?



Terry again while an HOA may have more restrictive Covenants they cannot violate the law. Which in this case allows: Signs in residential and all other zones may be no more than 8 square feet and no more than 8 feet high.

IMO In this case the HOA could not allow signs bigger than 8 square feet and no more than 8 feet high nor could they require less since it is permitted by law. The same would be true for the time limit which could be restricted to 30 days before and 7 days after by Covenant but no less.

http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/releases/0518signs.html







Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/26/2010 7:31 AM  
Terry,

OK, I've checked out Baltimore Co code (I assume this is where you are located since Glen posted info from this code)and the MD HOA Act and here's what I've found (I should have done this earlier!).

Copied below is the sign statute from the MD HOA Act and the Baltimore Co code for signs.

As you can see, the MD HOA Act says if the jurisdiction in which you're located does not specify the period during which the sign may be posted, the time period cannot be less than 30 days b/4 nor 7 days after the election. Therefore you assn CANNOT state 2 hrs b/4 and 1 hr after (which seems ridiculous to me anyhow!).

With regard to the height of the sign that is only addressed in the Co code. However, contrary to what Glen says, IMO the HOA may restrict the size to smaller than specified in the Co code. Note that the Co code says the sign cannot be ". . .no more than 8 square feet and no more than 8 feet high. . ." (IMO, a bit redundant!), which means it can be smaller. But, regarding the size the HOA wants to restrict the sign to (3" sq), IMO, it is really too small -- it could hardly even be seen from the street. The AZ HOA statute states a political sign can be no larger than 24" square. I think that's a good size; not too large and not too small.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Maryland HOA Act:
§ 11B-111.2. Candidate or proposition sign.
(a) In general. -- In this section, “candidate sign” means a sign on behalf of a
candidate for public office or a slate of candidates for public office.
(b) Exceptions. -- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a recorded
covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules
of a homeowners association may not restrict or prohibit the display of:
(1) A candidate sign; or
(2) A sign that advertises the support or defeat of any question submitted to the
voters in accordance with the Election Law Article.
(c) Restriction. -- A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or
a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of
a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:
(1) In the common areas;
(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or
(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not
specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a
time period not less than:
(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the
proposition; and
(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.

Baltimore Co code:
•Signs in residential and all other zones may be no more than 8 square feet and no more than 8 feet high.
Campaign signs may only be placed on private property with the express consent of the property owner, and such signs may not be placed in the public right-of-way. In addition, signs may not be placed in a location that blocks the ability of drivers to see oncoming traffic or pedestrians.


TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/26/2010 10:41 AM  
Mary, thanks. Not sure if you realize it or not but I posted the same portion of the md hoa act at the top of this thread - I hope u did not spend time looking for this.

The thread got a bit sidetracked when one response mentioned that hoa rules could be more restrictive than county code. I realize state law would require the 30/7 rule as a minimum, but what about size restriction (since this is only specified by county code?) Are we agreeing that any hoa in md could circumvent the spirit of the md hoa act by saying signs must be a size so small that it would make no sense to put up? There must ber more to it, no?
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/26/2010 10:51 AM  
Terry IMO no they cannot reduce the size allowed. The County allows signs up to 8 square feet and the HOA cannot require less.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/26/2010 10:51 AM  
Terry IMO no they cannot reduce the size allowed. The County allows signs up to 8 square feet and the HOA cannot require less.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/26/2010 11:20 AM  
Posted By GlenL on 07/26/2010 10:51 AM
Terry IMO no they cannot reduce the size allowed. The County allows signs up to 8 square feet and the HOA cannot
require less.




I guess I don't understand then - if an hoa can make rules more restrictive than county code, why can't it make a rule for a more restrictive sign size.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/27/2010 8:16 AM  
Terry,

I disagree with Glenn's interpretation. Since the code says UP TO 8 sq ft, IMO, that means the sign can be smaller than 8 sq ft. If it were meant to mean it could not be smaller then the code would read: the sign shall be 8 sq ft -- period. And, frankly, I wouldn't want an 8' sign in my front yard! IMO, your BOD should really rethink their 3" sq rule -- you couldn't even get the name of the candidate and the office they're seeking on it. That size is just ridiculous!
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/27/2010 10:48 AM  
Mary, we'll just have to disagree on this one but IMO the ordinance explicitly allows signs up to 8 square feet and any smaller limit would be a violation which in all probability end in a lawsuit. I would seriously recommend the Board get an opinion from the HOA's attorney before attempting it.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/27/2010 4:40 PM  
Glen,

Agreed -- we can agree to disagree! BTW, you have apparently forgotten that I'm always right! LOL
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/28/2010 8:51 PM  
Can we agree on this point - My intepretation of the MD HOA Act is that in the absence of state or federal laws as to when an election sign can go up an HOA is permitted to create a 30/7 day rule. My HOA board feels as though the HOA Act somehow specifies a default 30/7 position and that there does not need to be a rule created by the board to try and enforce this. They have already sent out violation notices despite my disagreement. They have said an attorney was consulted (despite keeping the correspondence hidden from me - a fellow board member).
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/28/2010 9:25 PM  
Yes, I agree with you and I imagine the BOD will find out the hard way when they notice the wrong "offender".

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/29/2010 9:17 AM  
Terry,

State law will always take precedence over any city/co code. However your state law states the 30/7 applies if there is no limitation to the time period in your co/city code. Your co code has no limitation so state law definitely applies.

Your board is correct in saying they do not need to have a rule specifying the 30/7 state law. I'm not sure what you mean by saying it is a default position. The law says signs may be put up 30 days b/4 the election and must be taken down w/i 7 days after the election. This means the HOA cannot send violation notices if members want to have their signs up 30 days b/4 and not take them down until 7 days after. If they are sending violations notices for shorter periods of time then they are most definitely violating the state law.

MD HOA Act:
(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not
specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a
time period not less than:
(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the
proposition; and
(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


07/29/2010 10:35 AM  
Mary, while a HOA can limit the time a sign may be up, they need to do it properly, the 30/7 is not a default setting. It is allowed if:

(c) Restriction. – A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:
(1) In the common areas;
(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or
(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not
specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a
time period not less than:
(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the
proposition; and
(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.


Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/29/2010 11:56 AM  
Posted By GlenL on 07/29/2010 10:35 AM
Mary, while a HOA can limit the time a sign may be up, they need to do it properly, the 30/7 is not a default setting. It is allowed if:

(c) Restriction. – A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:
(1) In the common areas;
(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or
(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not
specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a
time period not less than:
(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the
proposition; and
(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.





Glen, Mary -

Mary, I think my board is reading the HOA act the way you are - which makes their (and your position understandable). However, as Glen points out, you need to start reading from "(c) restrictions" not just from section "(c)(3)." As Glen highlites, section (C) is saying that an HOA "may" create a rule if the conditions in sections (c)1-3 are met.
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/29/2010 3:15 PM  
Glen & Terry,

I have read the whole statute and here's how I interpret it:

1) The BOD may adopt a rule if the city/co code does not have a law that is less than 30 days b/4 and 7 days after the election.
2) If the city/co code is longer than 30 days and 7 days then it would apply.
3) Terry's co has no time limit in their code therefore 30/7 applies, which means there is really no need for a rule because that time period is specified in the statute.

Frankly I believe the statute could have been worded much better, but what else is new!

TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


07/29/2010 7:04 PM  
Posted By MaryA1 on 07/29/2010 3:15 PM
Glen & Terry,

I have read the whole statute and here's how I interpret it:

1) The BOD may adopt a rule if the city/co code does not have a law that is less than 30 days b/4 and 7 days after the election.
2) If the city/co code is longer than 30 days and 7 days then it would apply.
3) Terry's co has no time limit in their code therefore 30/7 applies, which means there is really no need for a rule because that time period is specified in the statute.

Frankly I believe the statute could have been worded much better, but what else is new!




Mary, I guess we can agree to disagree - but let me ask you this. If you intepret the rule the way you describe, how can a homeowner in my county possibly know when they are, or are not allowed to put up a sign. How can a homeowner know whether their particular board enforces a 30/7 day rule or it doesn't if there is no definitive rule?
MaryA1


Posts:0


07/30/2010 8:02 AM  
Terry,

The member could familiarize themselves with the Co code and the state law and also with what rules the HOA has and take it from there. However, in most instances, most members are not familiar with county co and state laws and many don't even know or understand the CCRs and rules & regs of the assn. That's why many BODs can get away with violating the gov docs and/or state law. Not to mention the fact that the state law could have been worded much better.
JoelM1
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:61


07/30/2010 8:21 AM  
Posted By MaryA1 on 07/30/2010 8:02 AM
Terry,

The member could familiarize themselves with the Co code and the state law and also with what rules the HOA has and take it from there. However, in most instances, most members are not familiar with county co and state laws and many don't even know or understand the CCRs and rules & regs of the assn. That's why many BODs can get away with violating the gov docs and/or state law. Not to mention the fact that the state law could have been worded much better.




If the HOA did not have a rule (as you suggest it does not need) a member would only be able to go by Federal, State and County law. Since (and I think we can agree) the MD HOA Act does not say that all HOA's MUST enforce the 30/7 day rule, and the 30/7 day rule is only a minimum and HOA can go by (they could create a 60/14 day rule) a member really would have no definitive way of knowing when a sign could go up or

To me, if an HOA has no CCR against something there is no way that they can try and enforce it. If they are going by state or county rules/laws I would think it is up to the state or county to enforce the rule - not the HOA.
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/02/2010 4:46 AM  
I also live in a HOA community in Maryland and they have posted on the main website the following:

“This is a reminder that HOA bylaws prohibit the display of political signs more than 30 days prior to an election. Please refrain from placing signs in your yard until 30 days before the election will be held.”

In my interpretation of the Maryland Homeowners Act is that the community has to have a specific covenant regarding candidate/proposition signs. A covenant that mentions signs, such as directional, real estate etc. does not cover candidate/proposition signs. Candidate/proposition signs are a protected form of free speech. In my opinion, if the HOA doesn’t have a specific covenant regarding candidate/proposition signs than state and country regulations come into play. I don’t know why our HOA president allowed the statement of prohibition of political signs to be posted on the website. It is either he is ignorant of the covenants and state laws or, I know for a fact, that he is opposed to the party for which the signs have been popping up for. I have asked for that posting to be removed because since it has been up people have removed their signs. Could this be a form of intimidation? The post is still there.

With that said, since they are always “running to the Maryland HOA Act as a defense, I will use it to my advantage in that I will tell the HOA Board I want to exercise my freedom of speech and place candidate/proposition signs in the common areas. This should be legally allowed since our covenants do not prevent it per the Maryland HOA Act.
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/02/2010 5:00 AM  
My interpretation of Sec c) is that a RECORDED COVENANT HAS TO BE INPLACE and that recorded covenant can place limitation of displaying in the common area, duration of time the sign can be posted if a time frame is not specificed by a local jurisdiction, number and size of signs etc. Otherwise the state/local laws apply. But it has to be a RECORDED COVENANT.

c) Restriction. -- A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:

(1) In the common areas;

(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or

(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:

(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and

(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition
JoelM1
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:61


08/02/2010 6:44 AM  
Posted By RonM4 on 08/02/2010 5:00 AM
My interpretation of Sec c) is that a RECORDED COVENANT HAS TO BE INPLACE and that recorded covenant can place limitation of displaying in the common area, duration of time the sign can be posted if a time frame is not specificed by a local jurisdiction, number and size of signs etc. Otherwise the state/local laws apply. But it has to be a RECORDED COVENANT.

c) Restriction. -- A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:

(1) In the common areas;

(2) In accordance with provisions of federal, State, and local law; or

(3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:

(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and

(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition




Ron -

I mostly agree with you. Two clarifications though:

1) "If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law " - So if there is federal, state (and I assume county) law that in any way states a time frame in which signs can be posted it does not matter what covenant or rule an HOA has. There is a federal court ruling that says it is a violation of free speech to restrict when a candidate sign can be put up. Baltimore county recently eliminated their 45 day rule because of this and allows candidate signs to be up 365 days a year. I am unclear whether this eliminates an HOA the ability to create a rule enforcing a 30/7 day rule or not.

2) I don't think it has to be a covenant that specifies the 30/7 day restriction - it can also be a Rule/Regulation which is much easier to enact than a covenant change/addition.
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/02/2010 1:57 PM  
Joel: I think you are right. But the restriction has to be "recorded" for it to fall in line with the Maryland Homeowners Act.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/02/2010 5:01 PM  
Ron,

I do not interpret the statute to mean it must be a recorded covenant. That is only one of the options stated. The statute says: "a recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, OR a provision in the bylaws r rules of a HOA. . ." Note that the bylaws and rules are not generally required to be recorded.
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/02/2010 7:34 PM  
Mary then what does

) Restriction. -- A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may restrict the display of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any proposition:


mean?

My interpertation is that the HOA has to have it recorded either as a covenant or restriction.... it could also be a provison in a declaration or bylaw of a home owners association. I beleive all HOA agreemetns are recorded, that is if they are enforcable, because it is a contract between the association and homeowner.

Needless to say our HOA bylaws/covenants do not restrict candidate/propostion signs, there is no mention of such signs, yet the HOA president has been going around removing them from peoples yards and leaving a note that they are in violation.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/03/2010 8:15 AM  
Ron,

In most states only the CCRs are required to be recorded. The bylaws generally are not and I've never heard of the rules ever being required to be recorded. Regardless of whether a gov. doc. is required to be recorded it is still enforceable just the same as the recorded covenants are.

IMO, your Pres is certainly not acting properly. In fact she is taking a big chance by going on private property to remove signs. IMO, she could be accused of trespassing and theft of personal property.

If your assn has no restriction addressing political signs then I believe they must adhere to the State law which allows signs to be put up 30 days b/4 and remain as long as 7 days after an election. In trying to get your point across to the board that they are in violation of state law, I would suggest you quit emphasing the State requirement for a "recorded covenant" and just center on the fact that the HOA has no rule or restriction addressing political signs.
JoelM1
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:61


08/03/2010 10:39 AM  
Posted By MaryA1 on 08/03/2010 8:15 AM
Ron,

In most states only the CCRs are required to be recorded. The bylaws generally are not and I've never heard of the rules ever being required to be recorded. Regardless of whether a gov. doc. is required to be recorded it is still enforceable just the same as the recorded covenants are.




Mary, I believe bylaws and rules need to at least be voted on by the board before they can be created (and I differ to you as I am only assuming this). That vote would need to be recorded somewhere in the meeting minutes right? I think that the MD HOA Act, at the very least, states that the HOA must take some action before the 30/7 day rule can be enforced. If not, then how does a homeowner know when they are allowed to put up a sign?
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/03/2010 10:54 AM  
Thank you Mary... I should emphasis the fact our HOA has no such rule/regulation, covenant etc. regarding candidate/proposition signs. In our county you are allowed to display candidate/proposition signs 60 days prior to the election and they have to be removed within 7 days after. The primary is on Sept. 14th so we should be able to post the signs.

Joe, I agree that there should be some type of recording of the regulation so that residents have something to refer to otherwise what is to keep the board from making arbitrary rules as they go. Our HOA website posted that we have a bylaw that sates no political sign prior to 30 days. I have not been able to find it in any of our HOA documents. I have also posted my request on the website asking for it to be pointed out to me as well as sending e-mails to the HOA president and management company…. No response from anyone. My wife seems to think they (Board and management company) have “egg on their face” and doesn’t want to fess up. Additionally, the HOA president is a big contributor to the opposite party of the signs he has taken down, so by delaying a response there are less signs promoting the party he doesn't like.
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/04/2010 10:08 AM  
After a week, I received the following response from the management company regarding where does it mention regulations concerning candidate/proposition signs in our HOA documents:

"We are obtaining a professional opinion on this matter and as soon as we have a response we will immediately advise you and address the concerns."


That sort of tells me that we don't have a regulation on candidate/propositions signs for our HOA. I wonder if the HOA president is going to apologize to those whose yards in went into and removed signs? By the way, the HOA president has given hundreds of dollars to one political party and has “pulled” the signs of the opposing political party. Is it a coincidence?
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/04/2010 10:23 AM  
Ron,

Want to make a bet that by the time you receive an answer from the PM or BOD the election will be over? Even if the answer is that they were in error!!
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/04/2010 12:43 PM  
Mary, I wouldn’t take that bet. I am sure they aren’t going to respond in a timely manner. I will keep pushing the subject with e-mails and phone calls. I find it odd that the HOA doesn’t enforce bylaws/covenants that we do have documented and then they try to “force” a non existing covenant on us. As I mentioned in a previous post, the signs being removed by the HOA president are those of the opposing party to which he has donated hundreds of dollars to.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/04/2010 12:53 PM  
Ron,

When a board member cannot separate their personal life from their duties as a board member then they should no longer serve on the BOD. IMO, this fits the bill for your board Pres. She definitely is using her political persuasion to control her actions as the Pres. of the HOA. And, since none of the board members are concerned with enforcing the covenants perhaps it's time for all of them to be replaced. Exactly what do your covenants say about enforcement. Does the BOD have a "duty" to enforce. Can the members enforce if the BOD fails to after petitioned?
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


08/04/2010 2:09 PM  
Ron, even if they have a duty to enforce; I doubt the self-help method the president is employing is part of the procedure. I would let her remove a sign and video her doing it and then call the police, news media, candidate whose sign she removed, etc.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


08/07/2010 6:43 PM  
@TerryJ1 and any others that would like to chime in. I've appriciated all the answers and support that I have received ont this forum.

What has ever come of HOA decision on the posting of political signs? I also live in Maryland, Anne Arundel County, and we are going through the same thing. Anne Arundel County has a restriction that political signs cannot displayed more than 60 days prior to an election. Yet, the HOA attorney is stating that per the Maryland Homeowners Association Act that they can limit the displaying of political signs to 30 no less than days prior to the election.
So, what does : (3) If a limitation to the time period during which signs may be displayed is not specified by a law of the jurisdiction in which the homeowners association is located, to a time period not less than:
(i) 30 days before the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition; and
(ii) 7 days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition.

actually mean? If Anne Arundel County has a 60 day limit can the HOA be more restrictive with a 30 limit?
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:132


08/07/2010 8:49 PM  
If the higher authority limit (Anne Arundel county in this case) is no more than 60 days prior, I would think the hOA could not say "no more than a number of days higher than 60" (less restrictive), but could say a number of days less than 60 (More restrictive). I'm glad this business affects Maryland only, because to me campaign signs are just litter and are a lot like yard sale signs in that someone other than the person who placed them always has to go around and clean them up. We have a fight every year about campaign signs and the same thing always happens. The HOA takes them down as fast as people put them up and the county, although it is against the law, always looks the other way. Then for six months after the election, they trash up the landscape.
TerryJ1
(Maryland)

Posts:42


08/09/2010 9:43 AM  
In this case I do not understand the ability of an HOA to make a rule that is more restrictive than a county law. The MD HOA Act says that an HOA can enact a 30/7 day rule ONLY when a higher juristiction is silent on time frame of sign placement. In the example above, the county specifies a timeframe when signs can be placed so the HOA has no say in the matter. It cannot create a more restrictive rule, a less restrictive rule or even a matching rule. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems quite clear from what I read in the MD HOA act.
LisaP8
(Maryland)

Posts:1


08/27/2010 10:02 AM  
I have a related question. I recently received a letter from our HOA board president personally endorsing a political candidate. I would not have a problem except that the letter is signed using his title of board president. I assume went to all residents. I believe the mailing was sent by the campaign, most likely using a mailing list provided by the board. As someone who has worked on federal campaigns and in politics, this seems like an abuse of the board president's position and access to board documents but are any actual rules being broken?
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/27/2010 3:14 PM  
Lisa,

I don't know that any rules are being broken. However the board Pres should not be using his title as Pres in the letter, nor should he use assn paper, and most definitely stamps! An HOA board should not get involved in political issues and should not endorse political candidates.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


08/27/2010 5:55 PM  
Just like a board president endorsing political candidates in a form letter is iffy, I, as a board president, wouldn't wade to deeply in being a political sign cop if it's an election season.

After the election, it's a different issue.......
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/28/2010 1:09 PM  
Kelly,

In Arizona, HOAs cannot prohibit political signs.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:132


08/28/2010 1:19 PM  
Kelly. Are you saying you would look the other way (ratchet down the enforcement)if residents put political signs in their yards during election season? I'm confused because you also said "After the election, it's a different issue......." After the election there are not likely to be any election signs posted. Of course if there are, the members of the board are usually the ones who have to take them down, just like they do if signs are put up during elections. We publicize the restriction and then charge fines in cases where folks put them up.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


08/28/2010 4:59 PM  
I've never dealt with over-the-top campaign signs in someone's yard.

But, before an election, a person is making statement with their political signs.

Post-election, you've made your point and the signage is effectively trash as opposed to making a statement.

I'm sure my by-laws allow me to be the "cop" of campaign signs but unless there's a neighborhood uprising over a campaign sign, I wouldn't stir the pot by acting as the Lone Deputy on the beat.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:132


08/28/2010 6:59 PM  
Kelly. Your board should be made up of individual deputies who ensure the Covenants, bylaws and rules are adhered to. If you find you hesitate (or your board hesitates) to carry out your responsibility to enforce those standards because you are the lone deputy (deputies) - which implies the majority disagree with a given requirement - you might want to put it to a vote of the community and, if you get majority support, change the rule. Failing that, your board has a responsibility to enforce the rules of the association in order to protect the interests of the community as a whole. What you are doing by looking the other way is failing those who adhere to the standards (rules) whether they agree with them or not because they are, until they are changed, subject to adherance by all. Sounds to me like you have a few "selective" board members who, in the long run, are going to cause "past practice" problems in your community. If you're not careful, some residents are going to challenge the board as to why the board enforces X but not Y. If I were a resident in your community and I observed your board selectively enforcing certain rules, I would spearhead an effort to either enforce or change those rules. For the past 14 years I have led an annual campaign to keep political signs out partly because they trash up the yards and common area and because, like yard sale signs people put them up but expect someone else to take them down and they must be taken down by the board or a resident. Of course as a board member you know all this, but I just had to respond to the "Lone Deputy" thing. At times as board members, we have to be "Lone Deputies" We cannot always Follow The Herd.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


08/28/2010 7:15 PM  
Granted, my HOA is a master association. We mainly handle property management of a multi-acre park, a .62 mile circumference lake, a clubhouse, a pool, a dog park and a paved walking path around the lake. I'm handling so many tasks with keeping the property nice, which I do take an extra effort, that HOA issues that may effect other neighborhoods won't apply to my situation.

This likely does not apply to situation described above.

I, frankly, wouldn't have much time to fight neighbors over neat and orderly campaign signs. Dues collections and managing our service contractors take much time. Also, I don't admonish my fellow board members for not being the law enforcer-types. We handle problems quickly and efficiently but don't go hunting for rules violations unless they are blatant and to the detriment of another property. Then we move.




KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


08/28/2010 7:27 PM  
No election signs would be posted on common areas in my neighborhood. Only private lawns and for the election season, which local laws address in some manner in my area.

Signs have never been a problem in my community as all have been temporary. So, I cannot relate.

But no, I don't go hunting for violations to correct. I address obvious violations I see or are reported and our board confirms and move forward.

Hunting for violators seems lame and something only worth doing if you're really really bored.
JackB8
(Virginia)

Posts:132


08/28/2010 7:32 PM  
Kelly. Sounds like you have it covered.
MaryA1


Posts:0


08/29/2010 6:16 AM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 08/28/2010 7:27 PM
No election signs would be posted on common areas in my neighborhood. Only private lawns and for the election season, which local laws address in some manner in my area.

Signs have never been a problem in my community as all have been temporary. So, I cannot relate.

But no, I don't go hunting for violations to correct. I address obvious violations I see or are reported and our board confirms and move forward.

Hunting for violators seems lame and something only worth doing if you're really really bored.




Kelly,

I suggest you take a good look at the wording in your CCRs with regard to enforcement. If it says the board has a "duty" to enforce then I suggest you start "hunting" for violations. Otherwise you may find yourself on the losing end of a court battle one day. Just because you haven't been embroiled in a court case yet because you failed to enforce the CCRs doesn't mean it can't or won't happen one day. That is exactly what happened to an HOA in the Phx area a number of years ago. That landmark case has served as an example to HOA boards across AZ. HOA attorneys now recommend changing the CCRs to delete the "duty" requirement if the BOD does not want to enforce the CCRs. BTW, selective enforcement can get you in trouble too whether you have the "duty" to enforce or not! You may think to enforce the CCRs is not as important as other aspects of your job but I doubt your CCRs list your duties in any order of preference. As a board member you have a fidiciary resp. to the assn to handle all the aspects of your job equally.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


08/29/2010 7:03 AM  
At the end of the day, follow the applicable law.

And no, I'll never trespass on my neighbors' properties in the search for HOA violations. They tend to be easily exposed enough.

MaryA1


Posts:0


08/29/2010 8:46 AM  
Kelly,

Who said anything about trespassing upon your neighbors' property to look for violations???
RonM4
(Maryland)

Posts:26


09/25/2010 6:18 PM  
If you recall, I posted previously that our HOA president was going on property removing political signs. He stated that homeowners could not place signs more than 30 prior to an election. When questioned, he had the HOA lawyer issue an “opinion letter” in which it was stated that political signs could not be displayed until October 2nd. I petitioned the HOA board telling them they were misinterpreting Maryland state law. According to Maryland state law we can display political signs in our community (located in Anne Arundel County) 60 days prior to an election thereby allowing residents to place the political signs in their yard on July 17th and remain up until Nov. 9th. After no response, I wrote to the Maryland Attorney General. I finally heard back from him and yes indeed Maryland law allows us to display the political signs 60 days prior to the election. The HOA Board will be getting a “Letter of Decision” from the Maryland Attorney General.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


09/25/2010 8:02 PM  
Congratulations, Ron, on the legal victory.
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