Q: My HOA recently sent me a letter to “stop hanging my flags” in front of my home. I had three flags because my father and my father-in-law are both U.S. Marines. The letter stated that I may hang an American flag, but I must submit a request. I was given 10 days before they would fine me. I took them down, including the American flag. However, several neighbors have American flags, and they told me they did not ask permission.
A: You can fly your flags proudly, subject to a few restrictions.
Under the federal “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005,” it is illegal for a community association to stop residents from displaying a U.S. flag. This law allows your community to place reasonable restrictions on the display to protect your association’s “substantial interest.”
Florida, like most states, also has something to say on this issue. The state law allows you to display one portable, removable U.S. or Florida flag, plus one armed forces flag, each no larger than 4.5 feet by 6 feet, in a respectful manner. You can do this regardless of any association rules or requirements, meaning you need not get approval.
These laws cover two of your three flags. To discover if you can display your third flag, you will need to review your community documents and rules. Your community can only enforce written restrictions that comply with the law.
Some such documents contain no restrictions on flags, while others may allow more of a display than what the law allows or what your community manager is telling you.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show “Legal News and Review.” He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.