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Political Sign Display

In the building to a political election, neighbors may differ on whether they wish to support their preferred candidate with a sign in their yard, or to never see a certain candidate’s name again.  For community associations in North Carolina, the association’s declaration, the North Carolina General Statutes, and local ordinances provide the guidelines for how and when political signs may be displayed within a neighborhood.

A community association’s ability to regulate political signs is governed by North Carolina General Statutes Section 47F-3-121, which applies to all community associations regardless of when formed.  For restrictions registered prior to October 1, 2005, the statute provides that no restriction on the use of land shall be construed to “regulate or prohibit the indoor or outdoor display of political signs by an association member on property owned exclusively by that member” unless the restriction specifically uses the term “political signs.”  For restrictions registered on or after October 1, 2005, the restriction “shall be written on the first page of the instrument or conveyance in print that is in boldface type, capital letters, and no smaller than the largest print used elsewhere in the instrument or conveyance . . .” and must specifically state ‘THIS DOCUMENT REGULATES OR PROHIBITS THE DISPLAY OF POLITICAL SIGNS’”

Even when the declaration does not explicitly prohibit the display of political signs, the Association may prohibit or regulate the display of political signs earlier than forty-five (45) days before the day of the election and later than seven (7) days after an election day. The Association’s regulation cannot be more restrictive than any applicable city, town, or county ordinance that regulates the size and number of political signs on residential property. 

Wilmington Law and Politcal Signs

The applicable section of the New Hanover County Ordinances, Article IX Section 93(4), provides that non-illuminated political signs not exceeding 12 square feet in area may be placed on private property.  Such signs must be removed no later than 30 days after the applicable election or referendum.  Likewise, the applicable City of Wilmington ordinance, found in Section 18-576, sets out that political signs, which are non-illuminated and do not exceed twelve square feet in sign area, are permitted in all districts, and must be removed within thirty days after the applicable election.   

Contact an attorney if you are uncertain whether your Declaration complies with N.C.G.S. § 47F-3-121, or if you have questions about the extent to which your community association can regulate the display of political signs.  


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