As the political season heats up, look for more campaign signs to pop up in New Jersey communities. The New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that homeowners associations cannot ban political signs from doors and windows because doing so would violate free speech guarantees provided by the New Jersey Constitution.
The Facts of the Case
In Mazdabrook Community Homeowners’ Association v. Khan, Wasim Khan, a resident of the Mazdabrook Commons planned community in Parsippany, challenged a rule banning the posting of political signs. While running for local political office, Khan hung one of his campaign posters in a window of his townhouse. The Mazdabrook Commons Homeowner’s Association (HOA) notified him that posting signs of any kind was prohibited and told him to remove it within three days. Khan removed the sign, but was fined $75.
In a later disagreement with the HOA over outstanding fees, Khan challenged the constitutionality of the association’s ban on signs. The trial court ruled that the sign prohibition was not unconstitutional, relying on Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Ass’n, 192 N.J. 344 (2007). In that case, the court upheld the constitutionality of an HOA policy that limited residents to posting one sign in any window of their home and a second sign in a flowerbed near the residence. The Appellate Division disagreed.
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