View Full Version : I probably need a lawyer...

01-05-2008, 04:37 PM
But in the meantime, can anyone give me the "I am not a lawyer" advice you often see?

I am in Alpharetta, Georgia, and I rent a condo. My landlord is a nice lady, never hesitates to fix things, and when I needed her to hold off cashing the rent check, she was more than happy to.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I put a Ron Paul sign in my window. Not out front, but in the window of my rented condo. There are many such signs in the windows here, for-rent signs, realty, etc.

I get a knock on the door, it's this fat cow of a woman saying she represents the condo association, and that she's going to be fining my landlord $25 a month when I have the signs up. I asked "$25 a month", but must have intoned it wrong... she says "we CAN do it $25 a day"... because hell, $50 on next month's rent for my landlord for the trouble, no big deal. $700 extra, that's not easily afforded by me.

I can contact a lawyer, but for something like this even consultation will cost me. It could end up that it costs more fighting it than even paying the fines. And even if I pay those, my landlord may feel hassles for more than the actual fine.

Are they allowed to disallow political signs, and allow others? I thought political speech was more privileged than commercial speech.

Any advice is welcome, and I understand of course that it's non-binding... we're all just talking hypotheticals, and that if I need true legal advice (and I do), I should contact a lawyer.

Thanks in advance.

01-05-2008, 04:41 PM
Did you sign any papers when you rented, saying what kind of signs if any are allowed?

Did you contact the condo association about the matter?

Is there an ordinance in your city about signs?

Are you violating any laws or contracts?

Perhaps you can get the woman to clarify where there is a problem with the sign?

01-05-2008, 05:05 PM
I'm a renter. No, I didn't sign a lease. Landlord happened to be busy, didn't even show up to drop the keys off, just hid them and told me where to find them.

We always meant to sign the lease the next week, but never got around to it. Been here 14 months now. I pay my rent on time (except for once, gave her a heads up and explained that there'd be no problems past the one) and she is apparently happy with me. Sees no reason to sign a lease now apparently, and when I do leave someday, she'll find it in better shape than it was given to me.

But whether I signed anything or not, she would be bound to their rules. She'd suffer the fines. And I'll pay them, without her having to ask. But I don't want to get into a situation where she figures it's easier to get rid of me, than put up with a hassle.

The fat cow at the door today offered in a sarcastic tone to "show me the bylaws" that say I'm not allowed to have political signs (but apparently for-rent and real estate are). I assume she's not making it up.

She can probably start fining my landlord, without any sort of real oversight. Funny how we'd allow private corporations to have that power, eh?

My understanding though, is that homeowner's associations aren't allowed to have rules more restrictive than the local ordinances about political signs. That may not be the case everywhere.

01-05-2008, 05:08 PM
I suggest you consult your landlord about it.

01-05-2008, 05:15 PM
You should have called her bluff. Even if it wasn't a bluff you would at least know what you are up against by knowing. Why not go find said "fat cow" and ask to see the bylaws. At the very least you might inconvenience her. Another tactic might be to put signs up on locations that don't belong to your landlord thereby getting the message out and not causing trouble for yourself.

01-05-2008, 05:26 PM
I was thinking of painting my blinds, or putting in drapes or something. If I mark them though, I wonder if that makes them signs for the purposes of this.

01-05-2008, 05:29 PM
homeowner's associations have a lot of power because homeowner association contracts are legally binding contracts. that's why i will never live in a neighborhood with one.

01-05-2008, 05:34 PM
I thought political speech was more privileged than commercial speech.

In practice it is, but as Ron Paul points out, the 1st Amendment makes no such distinction.

Also, the 1st Amendment prohibits the federal government from restricting speech; it doesn't prohibit private property owners from restricting speech on their property.

I'm no lawyer, but I'd assume that it all comes down to your rental contract. It seems that a landlord ought to be able to put "no Ron Paul signs" in his contracts if he wants, just as easily as he can put "no cats" in it.

01-05-2008, 05:36 PM
Take the sign down.

THEN... Go buy a piece of shit car for $50 bucks and decorate it in Ron Paul attire, then park it outside.

To hell with that Hillary supporting hag.


01-05-2008, 05:37 PM
Did you ask what her rate was for a Giulliani sign?

01-05-2008, 05:39 PM
Take the sign down.

THEN... Go buy a piece of shit car for $50 bucks and decorate it in Ron Paul attire, then park it outside.

To hell with that Hillary supporting hag.


Not sure that sends the right message.;)

01-05-2008, 05:40 PM
If you don't have a lease you could be evicted with ease. I think.

01-05-2008, 05:44 PM
Bare in mind your landlord does not want to go to the bother of finding a new tenant, losing money by having an empty apartment, and then risk a bad new tenant.

It's probably best to just remove the sign and still place a prominent sign where everyone in your 'hood and who live near you can see the sign anyway.

Then just tell the fat cow you have removed the sign and you placed 10 more in public areas outside of your complex and thousands more people will be exposed to Ron Paul and it's all thanks to her.


01-05-2008, 05:48 PM
I already have a piece of shit car. One I don't mind if it has 10,000 bumper stickers on. But again, I wonder at what point it becomes a sign. Not to mention, they can tow it. As a matter of fact, they've already threatened to tow it... had a big orance sticker on it claiming it would be in 24 hours. I moved it, they've not tried to tow it.

But yeh, she was threatening fines to my landlord for all sorts of things, the car, the fact that a copy of the lease wasn't filed with them, all kinds of bullshit.

Keep in mind, I don't have a lease, just an oral agreement with my landlord, and that the signs were on the inside of my window.

01-05-2008, 05:51 PM
Also, some of us don't have alot of choice in where we live, remember. If these screwy HOAs do manage to blanket the entire nation, what then? They've assumed the functions of a local government, for crying out loud. They can issue fines and foreclose, and yet give me nothing in return? How is that a contract?

01-05-2008, 10:34 PM
I had a similar problem with the HOA in my neighborhood. My family isn't apart of the HOA since we lived in the neighborhood before it came into existance and they couldn't get rid of us for refusing to join. However, my dad ended up working for them and they threatened his job for his family not having "proper values".

Who would threaten a 74-year-old man's job over a political sign his daughter puts in her yard? It's not even on my dad's property!

We had to take it down though because social security and a government pension alone won't pay my dad's bills. They tried to make us remove our Ron Paul bumperstickers too, but we won that battle thanks to the HOA president's husband. He took my lawsuit threat seriously.

01-08-2008, 06:04 AM
Get her name. Subscribe her to gay porn and have it delivered to as many rival rental companies as you can think of. Don't worry. They'll track her down.