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ELLWOOD CITY (KDKA) — A woman in Ellwood City says her landlord threatened to try to terminate her lease over political signs in her yard.
Jessica Szafranski has two political signs in the front yard of the home she rents.
One is for Tom Wolf, the other is for Connor Lamb.
She says she heard from someone else that her landlord didn’t like the signs. Someone even took them down, and she put them back up.
But she says she heard from her landlord on Friday.
“He threatened to terminate my lease if I didn’t remove the signs,” Szafranski said.
Or, she says, he threatened not to renew her lease when it expires.
She kept the signs up and says she felt compelled to contact KDKA-TV.
“It’s particular to my moral compass that I speak out about this. I don’t feel like anybody should be silenced for their political beliefs,” she said.
But her landlord tells a different story.
He says that he’s not opposed to the political signs, but he just doesn’t want them in the yard. He says he wouldn’t mind if she put them in the window.
But Szafranski says she is the one who suggested putting them in the window, and that he dismissed that idea.
She says there’s nothing in her lease that addresses signs.
Real estate attorney Max Beier says this what the law says: “When you lease a property, you’re entitled to the entire use of that property.”
“If you wanted to put up Halloween decorations, you’re entitled to put up Halloween decorations. You’re not allowed to do anything that would be contrary to the law, but this is a freedom of speech issue plain and simple. And she has every right to have those signs up,” Beier said.
Szafranski fears she’s bringing on more trouble for speaking up.
“I’m afraid I’m going to lose my home. My daughter and I live here, and we’ve lived here for years. I’m certainly afraid that there will be some backlash,” she said.
The landlord tells KDKA-TV that said he’s considering whether or not to renew her lease next year.
But he says it’s not over politics. Instead, he says it’s about other issues, including decorations in the yard.