Maintaining harmony within your community can be difficult during the best of times. But when election season rolls around, things can get especially tricky. With emotions running high and a wide variety of opinions among homeowners in your neighborhood, keeping things peaceful can feel like a true challenge.

During these times, clear community guidelines can help keep things civil and foster an environment of respect. Here are some things to remember as you strive to help your community navigate this potentially contentious season.

Political signage and flags

Many homeowners choose to express their political allegiance through signage and flags. While HOAs have the power to create and enforce their own rules regarding signage and flags, it’s also important to note that there may be other regulations that dictate what homeowners can and can’t do. The HOAs desire to maintain a certain aesthetic within the community must be balanced with homeowners’ freedom of expression.

When drafting or reviewing rules regarding political signage, consider the following:

Local laws

City or state laws must be given priority when it comes to displaying political signs or flags. The rules your HOA sets cannot be more restrictive than these laws, so be familiar with them before you establish your own rules.

Sign size and placement

Many HOAs choose to regulate the size and placement of political signs in yards, in order to prevent clutter and maintain a uniform appearance throughout the community. Sign size may be limited; the number of signs displayed in a yard may be limited; and signs may or may not be allowed in designated common areas.


Determine a reasonable timeframe for the display of political signs, including start and end dates. This allows residents to express their views, while also maintaining community-wide visual appeal year-round.

Flags and banners

Some residents may choose to display flags or banners to express their community views as well. Similar guidelines regarding size, placement, and duration can help regulate these items while respecting residents’ rights to display them. When it comes to flags, remember the following:

  • Residents are allowed to fly the American flag at any time throughout the year, per federal law.
  • State laws may regulate things like flagpole location and height.
  • Other flags may also be regulated by local or federal regulations.

These basic guidelines can help you set some ground rules within your community during an election year.

Political discussions

While some people may prefer to express their political views through things like signs and flags, others may want to have verbal discussions about the topics at hand. Healthy discourse is a key point of democracy, and it’s not a bad thing for citizens to want to engage in political discussions. Still, it’s very easy for political disagreements to escalate into conflicts that disrupt an otherwise peaceful and happy neighborhood.

Here are some tips for managing political discussions:

Strike the right balance.

You want to encourage civic engagement, but you don’t want the election year to take over your neighborhood for months. Consider a few key events where you will allow political discussions to take place. Make it clear that political talk will be welcome at these events.

Establish ground rules.

Prior to HOA meetings or community events where political issues may arise, establish ground rules to keep things respectful and productive. Some of these rules may include:

  • Listen to different viewpoints.
  • Only speak when it is your turn to do so.
  • Avoid personal attacks.
  • Avoid inflammatory language.

Stay neutral.

HOA board members must remain neutral and impartial when facilitating discussions or addressing political issues within the community. Avoid expressing personal opinions or taking sides, and focus instead on creating a fair and inclusive environment for all residents. Do not hold partisan events that are hosted by the HOA.

Focus on common goals.

Most residents want the same things for their communities. They want to create safe, happy, clean neighborhoods to live in and raise their families in. Encourage residents to focus on these common goals and shared interests rather than political divisions. Emphasize the importance of working together to address community issues. Point out that cooperation is much more likely to improve the quality of life for all residents.

Respect and fairness

Whenever politics are involved, the most important thing to remember is that everything should be handled in a spirit of respect and fairness. This will create safety and inclusion within your neighborhood and among your residents.

Clear rules

Make sure all rules surrounding political expression are written clearly in your HOA governing documents. As an added precaution, you may want to use the election year as an excuse to remind residents what your neighborhood rules are. If residents have questions, answer them clearly.

Consistent enforcement

Don’t take action against one political expression while ignoring other similar ones. For example, do not issue a violation against a certain flag while ignoring other flags displaying in the neighborhood, or address certain complaints while ignoring others. And, most importantly, do not make exceptions to the rules. This slippery slope could lead to discrimination against certain residents.

Conflict mediation

It’s almost inevitable that conflicts will arise, despite your best efforts. Be prepared to facilitate mediation to help resolve disputes among neighbors. Establish clear procedures for this mediation so that minor disagreements don’t escalate into larger issues. Use your community regulations as the basis for all your decision making.

Election years often come with heightened emotions, and it can take a toll, even at a community level. With proactive HOA management and clear guidelines, community associations can help their neighborhoods navigate an election year successfully, fostering respect, civility, and inclusivity.