By Deborah Goonan
Americans are fed up with rules, especially when it comes to flying flags. And most media reports lately feature homeowners or tenants standing firm and defying their Associations or Management Companies.
In North Carolina, Rhona Sherrill is protesting Seascape’s 2009 “Statuary Landscape and House Ornaments Addendum,” which says that residents can only display one flag at a time, and then only on designated holidays. Sherrill is currently displaying the American Flag and the state flag of NC, and has refused to remove them unless the Association can prove that their rules can override state and federal law.
In Florida, Vanessa Danford is locked in a year-long dispute with Ortega Yacht Club Condominium over her display of the American flag from her balcony. The Condo Association President is “fed up” with Danford’s audacity to display anything in the common area — which includes balconies in condominiums — and compares the hanging of the American flag to a beach towel. A Florida attorney was quoted as claiming that owners never have the right to put anything in the common areas, but that appears to be in contradiction with FL law. (see here) Someone destroyed one of her flags and allegedly left anti-Semitic messages near her door. Danford was in the process of trying to sell her condo at the time the story was reported, but has refused to remove the flag.
In Pennsylvania, several residents are refusing to take down American flags, despite the threat of fines from the Liongate HOA. They have contacted their PA State Representative for intervention and assistance.
The crazy thing is, in 2005 a federal law was enacted, prohibiting Association-Governed Residential Communities from enacting or enforcing blanket restrictions or rules against flying the American flag. Many states enacted similar laws, to preclude Associations from restricting state and military flags as well as the American flag.
Residents believe the law is on their side, so they are standing their ground. However, when Associations seek to enforce flag rules, they bring a lot of undue stress to affected residents and unnecessary expense to all members to fight what is often a losing battle.
So why in the world are we hearing more and more reports about flag bans in HOAs?