In a few days it’s July 4th. Our country’s birthday. USA flags will be flying everywhere, even in our community associations and even if the Board in that association says take it down. With the political upheaval sweeping the country, this year I anticipate receiving complaint about owners or renters displaying flags that are not American flags, but flags that support a specific cause. The question is…can they do it. The answer is…not if the Board says they can’t.
The Freedom to Display The American Flag Act of 2005 states:
A condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use.
This federal law allows the association to make reasonable restrictions. Florida codified its own law and states:
Any unit owner may display one portable, removable United States flag in a respectful way and, on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day, may display in a respectful way portable, removable official flags, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, that represent the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, regardless of any declaration rules or requirements dealing with flags or decorations.
For homeowner associations:
Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association.
(b) Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner’s real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement. The homeowner may further display in a respectful manner from that flagpole, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, one official United States flag, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, and may additionally display one official flag of the State of Florida or the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag. Such additional flag must be equal in size to or smaller than the United States flag. The flagpole and display are subject to all building codes, zoning setbacks, and other applicable governmental regulations, including, but not limited to, noise and lighting ordinances in the county or municipality in which the flagpole is erected and all setback and locational criteria contained in the governing documents.
So, the law is clear. You only have a right to display the flag of the USA. The stars and stripes. That’s it. You have no right to display any other type of flag and your association may require you to take it down.
It’s more important than ever to display the flag. Do so proudly.