During election season, it is important for residential rental owners and managers to be familiar with California laws regarding political signs; a new political sign law went into effect January 1, 2012.
California Civil Code §1940.4 establishes the rights and obligations of both residential tenants and landlords regarding political signs on rented property. Below is a breakdown of the key points.
A landlord may not prohibit a tenant from posting or displaying political signs relating to any of the following:
1. An election or legislative vote, including an election of a candidate to public office.
2. The initiative, referendum, or recall process.
3. Issues that are before a public commission, public board, or elected local body for a vote.
Signs may be posted or displayed in the window or on the door in a multifamily dwelling or from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall of a single-family dwelling.
A landlord may prohibit signage based upon the following:
1. Signs larger than six (6) square feet.
2. If the posting or displaying would violate a local, state, or federal law.
3. If the posting or displaying would violate a lawful provision in a common interest development.
Allowable time periods for sign posting and removal may be established by local ordinance. In the absence of a local ordinance, landlords may establish a “reasonable time period” for sign posting and removal, which must begin at least 90 days before and end at least 15 days after the election or vote.
Below is a text of the new law:
Civil Code §1940.4
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), a landlord shall not prohibit a tenant from posting or displaying political signs relating to any of the following:
(1) An election or legislative vote, including an election of a candidate to public office.
(2) The initiative, referendum, or recall process.
(3) Issues that are before a public commission, public board, or elected local body for a vote.
(b) Political signs may be posted or displayed in the window or on the door of the premises leased by the tenant in a multifamily dwelling, or from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall of the premises leased by a tenant of a single-family dwelling.
(c) A landlord may prohibit a tenant from posting or displaying political signs in the following circumstances:
(1) The political sign is more than six square feet in size.
(2) The posting or displaying would violate a local, state, or federal law.
(3) The posting or displaying would violate a lawful provision in a common interest development governing a document that satisfies the criteria of Section 1353.6.
(d) A tenant shall post and remove political signs in compliance with the time limits set by the ordinance for the jurisdiction where the premises are located. A tenant shall be solely responsible for any violation of a local ordinance. If no local ordinance exists or if the local ordinance does not include a time limit for posting and removing political signs on private property, the landlord may establish a reasonable time period for the posting and removal of political signs. A reasonable time period for this purpose shall begin at least 90 days prior to the date of the election or vote to which the sign relates and end at least 15 days following the date of the election or vote.
(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any changes in the terms of a tenancy that are made to implement the provisions of this section and are noticed pursuant to Section 827 shall not be deemed to cause a diminution in housing services, and may be enforced in accordance with Section 1161 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from a lawyer. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit www.kts-law.com.
© 2012 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP