SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s a sight all too familiar in Spokane; every election season, political signs pop up alongside roads, in yards and on billboards.
But what does the law say about where you can and cannot display them where you live?
Are private-owned community apartment tenants allowed to display political flags, signs, etc. from balconies and windows?
- Jeremiah Chin, associate professor of law, Seattle University
- Washington state law RCW 64.38.034
Yes, it is generally OK to display political signs on a rented property
WHAT WE FOUND
RCW 64.38.034 states, “The governing documents may not prohibit the outdoor display of political yards signs by an owner or resident on the owner’s or resident’s property before any primary or general election. The governing documents may include reasonable rules and regulations regarding the placement and manner of display or political yards signs.”
“Displaying a sign for personal, especially political reasons, is usually covered by a couple of things. It could either run into a leasing agreement with your tenant or landlord, or a municipal ordinance like your city has rules and regulations about signs,” Chin clarified.
Chin said a tenant’s ability to display signs depends on several factors: if your landlord is a private party and if such signs are specifically allowed or prohibited in your lease agreement. If signs are not mentioned, Chin said it is probably OK to display them within reason.
“If your rental agreement doesn’t say otherwise, there would be no real problem with it unless you’re trying to put together like a 10-foot-tall neon billboard on your balcony window, and then you’re more worried about nuisance or something like that,” he said.
If your landlord is the government, Chin said the First Amendment comes into play, giving tenants fewer restrictions on signs.
“It would probably give you more protections if you live in government subsidized housing because now if the government is your landlord, they have to follow the First Amendment more clearly than a private party renting to you,” he said.
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