Freedom to Display the American Flag

Can Florida Associations Prohibit Display of the American Flag?

Florida law, Fla. Sta. §720.304 (2) provides, in relevant part:

(2)(a) Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association.

(b) Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner’s real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement. The homeowner may further display in a respectful manner from that flagpole, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, one official United States flag, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, and may additionally display one official flag of the State of Florida or the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag. Such additional flag must be equal in size to or smaller than the United States flag. The flagpole and display are subject to all building codes, zoning setbacks, and other applicable governmental regulations, including, but not limited to, noise and lighting ordinances in the county or municipality in which the flagpole is erected and all setback and locational criteria contained in the governing documents.

(c) This subsection applies to all community development districts and homeowners’ associations, regardless of whether such homeowners’ associations are authorized to impose assessments that may become a lien on the parcel.

Furthermore, Fla. Sta. §720.3075(3), provides that:

(3) Homeowners’ association documents, including declarations of covenants, articles of incorporation, or bylaws, may not preclude the display of one portable, removable United States flag by property owners. However, the flag must be displayed in a respectful manner, consistent with Title 36 U.S.C. chapter 10.

Therefore, homeowners have the right to display one portable U.S. flag in a respectful manner in compliance with Title 36, U.S.C., Chapter 10. Along with the U.S. flag, Florida law also protects HOA members’ respectful display of the state flag of Florida, the flags of each branch of the armed services, and the POA / MIA flag. The Florida law protects flags up to 4.5 x 6 feet in size and allows reasonable limitations relating to time, place, and manner of display.

In addition, the federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 (Pub.L. 109–243, 120 Stat. 572, enacted July 24, 2006) forbids homeowners associations from banning display of the American flag. However, the law states that an association may limit the time, place, and manner in which the flag is displayed, as long as the limitation promotes a substantial interest of the association.

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