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14 Oct 2016
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Political Speech and Residential Buildings

Motorists driving down almost any neighborhood road in the suburbs during election months will most certainly be met with a barrage of political signage for candidates, not to mention bumper stickers, window decals, etc.  Passing by residential property in cities like New York, however, is quite the opposite.  In fact, there is a deafening political silence in most condo and co-op buildings, as almost all condo bylaws and co-op leases prohibit any kind of electioneering.  Public and communal spaces within these buildings, (even your front door), are almost always barred from such advertising.  The enforcement of these rules are not subject to one political bend or the other, but apply across the spectrum.  In fact, nearly all signage and flag flying violates these rules, with two notable exceptions.

The American Flag.

The right to fly the American Flag was enshrined into law in 2006.  The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act states that: “a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent an association member from displaying the U.S. flag on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.”  Bear in mind, this law protects only the American Flag.  State flags, military flags, foreign flags are likely all prohibited by your lease.

Religious paraphernalia.

Buildings generally make exceptions for religious displays in the hallway outside the door to your unit, or affixed to the door to your unit, such as a mezuzah, a cross, a prayer rug, etc.  One co-op may be more lenient than another, however.  It is important to be aware of your individual rules beforehand.

While it is not uncommon to see campaign fliers placed under apartment doors, much like menus from your local neighborhood restaurants, this is probably a violation of your building’s rules or by-laws.  Remember, the aim here is not to restrict your political opinions or discourage anyone from voting.  Rather, your building would prefer you keep it confined to the voting booth.

 

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