Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fined for "supporting the troops"?

A couple months ago, I criticized a proposal by a Democrat state legislator to limit covenant restrictions on private property. Now, some conservatives are upset with a homeowners association for coming down on a woman who put a "support the troops" sign in her yard.

First, let's cut through the hyperbole and ABC News' misleading headline. Stacey Kelley was not fined for supporting the troops. She was fined for putting a sign in her yard, which is not allowed under the guidelines of the association. That rule is the same whether the sign is a message of support for the troops, an anti-war message, or a statement on any other issue.

As a supporter of private property rights, I am not a big fan of homeowners associations. However, I recognize that the restrictions on what you can do with your property if you live in a homeowners associations is a legitimate byproduct of a free-market economy. These restrictions are a legal contract agreed to by consenting adults. If someone signs that contract, they are obligated to abide by the terms of the contract.

What about people who move into an area with a homeowner's association? Like it or not, when you buy a piece of property, it is your responsibility to do your homework and see if there are any deed restrictions on that property and what those restrictions are. If someone purchases a piece of property without doing the necessary research, he does not (in my opinion) have the right to complain when he is "surprised" by the terms of the agreement.