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Bill targets HOA disputes over speech suppression

California residents subject to the rules of homeowner associations may soon see a significant change in non-solicitation policies. Those policies have allowed HOAs to block political efforts among their residents by imposing fines and issuing commands. Some residents may agree with these policies as they impact political speech, but others feel strongly about their free speech rights. Citizen testimony was one factor in the movement of legislation preventing HOA infringement of free speech rights through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Several HOA disputes were discussed in front of the committee. One of the individual property owners strongly supported a mayoral candidate. His HOA informed him that approaching neighbors and organizing meetings in his home was against the rules. Also testifying was a woman who provided information door-to-door on legislation that would impact the voting rights of homeowners. She was fined and ordered to stop her efforts. The Center for California Homeowner Association Law was also present, and its president testified her support.

SB 407 forbids HOA boards from denying their free speech on political matters to individual property owners. As of June 20, the bill has been passed by the committee and sent to the Assembly for review. Several organizations have voiced support for its passage, including the California School Employees Association and the Golden State Manufactured Homeowners League.

Regardless of the passage of this bill, homeowners may be able to take action against HOAs that infringe upon their rights. Current legislation prevents association boards from taking a number of actions that they still take to enforce restrictions and suppress rights. A skilled attorney may be able to review the issue and represent homeowners in HOA disputes. Efforts could result in overturning the rules that strip rights, recovering damages and payment of associated legal fees.

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