Andrew Almer’s flag makes flapping noises in the wind. So his Fargo, North Dakota Condo Association (Plum Tree Square Condo Association) is threatening to fine him $200 per day and wants it taken down. Mr. Almer has been flying his flag for at least two of the 5 years he’s been a resident.
Almer has kept the flag displayed for a good portion of his five-year stay. “I don’t really take it down,” he said. “It’s been lit up every night and it’s an all-weather flag, so you follow the guidelines and it’s been up for two years straight, almost.” Almer said he received his first official complaint about the flag in January.“The first letter I got, I laughed, because I just thought, ‘This is ridiculous,’” he said. “You cannot tell me somebody is complaining about a flapping flag in the wind.” It was not, however, a joke. A second letter followed, and Almer has now been threatened with $200-per-day fines if it is not removed. “When I got this second letter I thought, ‘Oh my God, she’s serious,” he said…
The Federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 prohibits homeowner associations from forcing residents to take down the American flag. The law summary reads:
Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 – States that 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 an association member from displaying the U.S. flag 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.
States that nothing in this Act shall be considered to permit any display or use that is inconsistent with: (1) federal law or any rule or custom pertaining to the proper display or use of the flag; or (2) any reasonable restriction pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag necessary to protect a substantial interest of the condominium, cooperative, or residential real estate management association.
HR 42 (2005-2006 Congress)
The bolded statement is how these HOAs attempt to get around the law. In this case, the condo association claims the noise from the “flapping” of the flag is disturbing residents, which they think is a “substantial interest.” It’s not. Over the last several years we have written about numerous attempts of HOAs to force residents to remove their flags, everything from the size of the flag to having a pole, to other display issues. Almer doesn’t plan to remove it, and will likely fight the condo association.
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