Can Your HOA Prohibit Flag Display?

June 14, 2016


Today, in communities across America, homeowners are proudly flying their American flags in recognition of Flag Day.

Or, they’re wondering if it’s allowed by their community association.


Indeed, one of the most popular topics in associations is whether your association can legally prohibit you from flying their flag.

And the answer may surprise you.

While your right to display an American Flag is protected by federal law, each state has its own rules when it comes to how homeowners can fly their flags and show support for causes close to them. The issues HOAs generally raise when considering flags in their communities is usually not related to the flag at all, but rather the flagpole and community guidelines on flagpoles vary.

The Community Associations Institute has a public policy that states:

“Community Associations Institute (CAI) strongly supports the elimination of community association restrictions that prohibit the display of a reasonably sized flagpole and reasonably sized, removable American flag from a resident’s exclusive use or limited common element areas, so long as the flag is displayed in accordance with the Federal Flag Code, 4 U.S.C Sections 5-10, as amended. CAI further believes that community associations – not a state law – are best suited to determine the appropriate size, placement and installation of a flagpole.”

To read CAI’s policy in its entirety, click here.

So, where does this leave you? The first step you need to take if you don’t know your state’s stance on displaying flags? Find out. This way you’re armed with all the information you need to have a productive discussion with your association.

If your association doesn’t have any rules in its governing documents, you should speak with your board to determine next steps to adopt a set of rules and if you think the current community association rules don’t reflect your community’s needs, you could discuss amending your community’s rules.

Commemorative flags are deeply personal for many homeowners and it’s important to remember that cooler heads prevail, meaning that before you get angry about your community’s rules, realize that the rules for flag display were 1. Probably not created by your current association board who’s tasked with enforcing the rule; 2. Were most likely not intended to stifle your expression, but to maintain the aesthetics of your community; and 3. That, as a community member, you have the power to change those rules or any other rules that your community has outgrown, by working with your elected board members, or becoming a board member yourself.


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