Questions on Solicitation in Residential Communities Answered

Posted on 08-25-2022

At Rep. Steve Smyk’s most recent constituent coffee meeting, there were
some questions regarding solicitation in residential developments. Here is some feedback we were given from a House of Representatives’ attorney on the subject:
Private property owner(s) can post “no solicitation” signs if they want wish.

A private community can post such signs if they want to, providing there is no local law/ordinance to the contrary.

State law does not address this matter.

If the road is dedicated to the state and maintained by the state, then the use of the road cannot be prohibited by homeowners. Traffic would have the right to utilize the road.

However, even when the roads in a residential development have been dedicated to the state, the homeowners/community can still prohibit solicitation.

There does not appear to be a legal definition of the term “solicitation” in the Delaware Code. As a result, any court interpreting the term would utilize the common man/dictionary definition. The Collins English Dictionary defines the word in this way: “Solicitation is the act of asking someone for money, help, support, or an opinion.”

Political campaigning is a form of solicitation, but political speech is a highly protected form of speech. Unless there is a local ordinance directly on point, there would likely be no enforcement of a “no solicitation” notice with regard to canvassing by political candidates.

The same is true of campaign yard signs in communities that limit their placement. Such community rules would be difficult to enforce given the constitutional protections granted to political free speech.