Can Tenants Post Political Signs?

Can landlords stop their tenants from posting signs for a political candidate or proposition the landlord doesn’t support? The answer generally is no. Since 2012, the law in California allows tenants to post political signs, but there are some restrictions.

California Civil Code §1940.4 prohibits a landlord from interfering with a tenant’s right to post or display on the premises political signs relating to

  1. an election or legislative vote,
  2. the initiative, referendum, or recall process, or
  3. issues before a public body for a vote, except under certain circumstances.

But when the campaign is over, the signs must come down. The tenant must comply with the periods established by a local ordinance for the posting and removal of political signs or, in the absence of such provisions, by reasonable time limits. And the landlord may establish a reasonable period for the posting and removal of political signs; a reasonable period begins at least 90 days before the date of the election or vote to which the sign relates and ends at least 15 days after the date of the election or vote. CC §1940.4(d).

In addition to timing, there are other limits on a tenant’s political signs. See CC §1940.4(c). They can’t

  • be more than six square feet in size,
  • violate a local, state, or federal law, and/or
  • violate a lawful provision in a common interest development governing document that satisfies the criteria of CC §1353.6.

And, under CC §1940.4(e), despite any other law, any change in the terms of a tenancy made by the landlord under this section that’s properly noticed under CC §827 won’t be considered to be a diminution in housing services and may be enforced by an eviction under CCP §1161.

But none of these limitations apply to general expression of political views. By uncodified statement of legislative intent, §1940.4 doesn’t affect a tenant’s rights arising from noncommercial expression not associated with political signs. See Stats 2011, ch 383, §2. So tenants can probably post their peace signs all year long!

For more on rights and duties during a tenancy, including statutes regulating the use of the premises, turn to CEB’s California Landlord-Tenant Practice, chap 3.

Other CEBblog™ posts on landlord-tenant issues:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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