Can your HOA restrict political, social issue signs on your property?

Local

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dozens of homeowners in the Bauerle Ranch community in southwest Austin have signed a petition against the homeowners’ association policy that restricts the types of signs that can be placed on a homeowner’s property.

The Bauerle Ranch HOA is in line with the Texas election code, which requires HOAs to allow homeowners to place political campaign signs on their property up to 90 days before an election and up to 10 days after an election. All other signs at Bauerle Ranch are banned without prior approval from the HOA.

“There are certain communities in the state of Texas, and nationwide, that are bound by deed restrictions,” said Clint Brown, general counsel for the Bauerle Ranch HOA. “When an owner buys into the community, they buy with the understanding that there are certain things that they cannot do.”

The petition, which has collected 73 signatures online, criticizes the Bauerle Ranch HOA for not allowing other signs, including those highlighting social issues like the Black Lives Matter movement. Violation of the policy can lead to up to $200 in fines.

“The new sign policy was created in direct response to Bauerle Ranch neighbors advocating for social justice using one of the few available communication methods during a global pandemic—yard signs,” the petition reads.

Chad Ruback, an appellate attorney in Dallas, said HOAs are given broad authority to determine what signs homeowners in Texas can place on their property, outside of election season.

“Freedom of speech limits what the city, the county, the state, the federal government can do to limit your speech,” Ruback said. “Freedom of speech does not limit what the HOA can tell you you can and cannot say.”

One Bauerle Ranch homeowner told KXAN if a sign isn’t crude or inappropriate, homeowners should have the freedom to express themselves.

“That’s the great thing about our country,” Daniel Elder said. “People can support whoever they want. If you’re offended by who they support I guess that’s your right too.”

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