Action 9: Campaign sign rights



CASSELBERRY,Fla. - A Seminole County woman believes her landlord violated her rights when he ripped a campaign sign out of her front yard.

There's no doubt who Stephanie Fuller supports. Her car has several campaign support stickers on it. But the Casselberry mom got an ugly surprise when she put an Obama re-election sign in her rented home's front yard.

"Quite frankly I was shocked, you know, I didn't know what my rights were," said Fuller.

She claims that the day after the sign went in, her landlord's parents arrived at her door.  

According to Fuller she watched them rip the sign out and toss it sign into the bushes.

"Why?  I asked why?   They said its because they don't allow signs here," said Fuller.

Fuller said she didn't understand if the  landlord banned the signs or the Lost Lake homeowners association did.

Either way, she said, she felt it was outrageous.

"I don't think its right for anybody to tell them how they can express their opinion," said Fuller.

Action 9 checked Fuller's lease, there are some property use restrictions but no mention of political signs.

Most homeowners associations ban advertising signs, restrict for sale signs but usually allow campaign signs during elections.

Stephanie's HOA would not comment on it's policy but throughout her neighborhood Action 9 found six other yard signs, one right across the street.

Consumer attorneys Action 9 talked to said if the HOA is not enforcing a political sign ban, Stephanie has rights.

" If it's not enforced unilaterally against everyone, then they can't selectively enforce it against one person," said attorney Barbara Stage.

For Fuller it's a renter's free speech issue, no matter who you support. (Todd Ulrich)

"How would you feel if a Romney sign was torn down?" Action 9's Todd Ulrich asked Fuller.

"I would be just as appalled. It is everyone's right to express themselves," said Fuller.

Fuller said the homeowner had always been fair and helpful with repairs until this happened.  That landlord had no comment for this story.

Two days after Ulrich talked to Stephanie, the landlord apologized for what happened and is reconsidering.