As election day rapidly approaches,  it is important for homeowner and community associations (HOAs) throughout Minnesota to fully understand their rights and obligations relating to campaigning and campaign materials. While limitations on exterior signs, flags, and other decoration is extremely common at homeowners associations generally, there are laws relating to campaign season that Boards and property managers should be aware of.

Minnesota Statutes provide that during election season, campaign materials of any size may be posted on an owner’s private property. See Minn. Stat. § 211B.045. The provision explains that election season starts forty-six days before the state primary and ends ten days after the general election. Thus, this year, the applicable time frame is between June 26, 2020 and November 13, 2020.

While the law generally applies to municipal ordinances, courts have not provided additional interpretation regarding whether it also covers rules and requirements at HOAs.  In our view, because the statute is ambiguous, Boards should err on the side of caution and suspend enforcement of signage rules at their association during this time.

An important distinction, however, is that the law does not provide anyone with the right to post campaign materials on another’s property. At HOAs, this means that while an owner has the right to post campaign materials on their unit, they do not have the right to post it on the common areas.

This issue comes up most often at condominiums, where the exterior of the buildings are most commonly defined as common areas, rather than part of the unit. In that situation, owners would have the right to post campaign materials in a window or other area within their Unit where a sign may typically be prohibited, but they would not have the right to place signs outside on the yard or other common areas.

Once election season is over, on November 13, 2020, associations may resume enforcing their rules and regulations regarding signage as they typically would. Additionally, this may be a good time for associations who do not have written rules, or whose rules are outdated or not consistently enforced, to review them and consider an update. Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC has extensive experience with all types of governing document amendments and drafting, and would be glad to provide an analysis of how we may be able to help.

– Karly Kauf, Attorney @ Smith Jadin Johnson, PLLC