Understanding the limits of HOA rules on flags

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2024 | Real Estate Law

Homeowners Associations play a significant role in maintaining the appearance and value of a community. While they have a prerogative to impose various mandates, including those relating to flags, there are limits on what they can enforce.

Knowing these constraints helps HOAs balance community standards with a homeowner’s right to personal expression.

Restrictions HOAs can put on flags

Most Homeowners Associations have guidelines restricting residents when it comes to flags. These rules commonly specify that Old Glory cannot obstruct desirable views or pose safety hazards. An HOA might keep homeowners to one flag per property, dictate that flags should not exceed a certain width or insist that banners remain in line with the neighborhood’s overall aesthetics. Certain imagery may be unacceptable.

Flags that have protection

Despite the broad powers of HOAs, federal and state laws provide protections for certain types of flags. The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 states that an HOA cannot bar a homeowner from displaying the U.S. flag on their property. Similarly, state laws may enshrine the right to fly state or military service flags.

Crafting HOA flag restrictions

HOAs must be careful with the phrasing they use in their directives. Every board naturally wants to avoid potential disputes. If the rules seem too overbearing or someone believes they fall outside the law, tensions may rise. Smoothing over hostilities requires open communication; respectful discussions often lead to compromises that resolve conflicts.

HOAs are responsible for maintaining community standards. When their rules are unclear, it can result in misunderstandings and frustrations. Boards should use unambiguous language with their regulations and verify they are legally compliant.