Homeowner’s Association Ban on Political Signs Found Unconstitutional

According to a recent decision by the Supreme Court of New Jersey, a homeowner’s association cannot prohibit residents from posting political signs in the windows of their own homes. In Mazdabrook Commons Homeowner’s Assn. v. Kahn, 2012 N.Y.LEXIS 688 (2012), Wasim Khan, a home owner in the Mazdabrook Commons, ran for Parsippany Town Council and posted two signs in support of his candidacy. The covenants, restrictions, and association’s rules and regulations, however, prohibited the display of any signs on the exterior or interior on any Unit, except for one “For Sale” sign on the interior of the Unit. The Board ordered removal of the signs. Initially, Kahn complied. Following another dispute over his rose vines, Kahn filed a counterclaim against the association claiming violations of his free speech rights under the New Jersey and United States Constitutions.

By relying on Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners Assn., the trial court found that the sign prohibition did not violate Kahn’s free speech rights. The Appellate Division, on the other hand, reversed that issue and found the sign restriction unconstitutional. The Supreme Court agreed. It was held that the sign policy violates the free speech clause of the state constitution. The Court found that in New Jersey, an individual’s affirmative right to speak freely is protected both from abridgment by government and also from unreasonably restrictive and oppressive conduct by private entities.

 

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