Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Signs Raise Questions about Homeowners Associations

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Signs Raise Questions about Homeowners Associations

Article excerpt

Q: I live in a subdivision that is controlled by an incorporated homeowners' association. One of the five covenants states that no signs (political, yard sale, car for sale) are allowed. This is fine by me, but one small part of the subdivision is zoned "commercial," and signs of any type, including political signs, are allowed there - if you get the manager's approval. Haven't the courts struck down covenants like this as being unconstitutional?

A: No, the covenant can be enforced as long as the manager is not acting arbitrarily.

A recent phenomenon in property ownership is the homeowners' association. People form associations to get back (or hold onto) control of the aesthetics of their neighborhood by agreeing to rules (like no outdoor pools, no pets, no mowing before 8 a.m.), by which everyone in the association must abide. Associations are often formed when a community or subdivision is newly built, but they can be formed by existing property owners. Control of the aesthetics of a neighborhood is often completed by placing agreements, called covenants, in the deeds to the property in the association. That way, when someone buys the property and gets the deed, they know up front what they can and can't do with their property. Covenants can last forever. And when faced with a dispute arising from a covenant, courts will almost always uphold the covenant, even when it seems absolutely ridiculous. As if that weren't enough, when you purchase property belonging to an association, you must agree to be bound by its procedures, rules and regulations. As such, homeowners' associations have another vehicle - association rules - by which they can directly affect and restrict your use and enjoyment of your property. Violations of rules or covenants may not lead to a trial, but they can result in a fine, a lien on the property or loss of membership. …

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