Freedoms With Property Ownership Are Not Absolute – Your Rights As An Owner Resident In A Multiple Dwelling

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For many – one of the allures of owning real estate in Manhattan is that owners are afforded certain liberties and freedoms that renters do not otherwise have. However, unit ownership in a multiple dwelling is not free from restriction.

Coop and Condo Governing Documents vs. First Amendment

Whether you live in a condominium or cooperative, most governing documents prohibit the display of signage in windows or doors that may be visible to passersby’s on the street. While most boards choose to adopt such a provision in order to preserve the visual aesthetics of the building, many have questioned whether such a rule is a restraint on a resident’s first amendment rights.

The simple answer is no, it does not. The First Amendment applies to government action only so co-op and condominium boards can place an outright ban on posting signage that may be visible from the street.

Coop and Condo Board Enforcement

The more complicated answer comes in the form of an additional question: how much effort does the board want to expend to enforce such a rule? However, a board must enforce rules contained in governing documents equally by prohibiting all residents from displaying signage in their windows, which are visible from street level.

Consistency is Key

This issue has become increasingly prevalent due to the country’s current political climate. With owner residents hyper-inclined to showcase their political affiliations, boards are challenged with the task of being diligent and consistent in enforcing the rules contained in the building’s governing documents.

Although inconvenient to owner residents who are adamant about using their windows and balconies as an avenue of expression, restrictions on posting signage in one’s window or door is not a violation of one’s first amendment rights. No matter the context, residents are not permitted to violate the building’s governing documents under any circumstance and must abide by the rules and regulations of the building.

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