As we celebrate Memorial Day with family and friends and visit the graves of those we have lost in duty to the Military this weekend, many homeowners want to put the American flag outside their homes in a show of patriotism. But is it allowed? Depending on where you live, you might be told you can’t fly the American flag by your local homeowner’s association.
Is that legal? Can they really say who can and who cannot fly the American flag outside their home? To avoid being involved in legal action, many homeowners’ associations have decided to ban any individual display observable from outside the building.
According to the federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, no condo, co-op or homeowners’ association can restrict owners from displaying the flag on their property. However, they are permitted to place “reasonable restrictions” on the time, place and manner of display to protect the ‘substantial’ interest of the association.
Some state laws also govern homeowners’ associations’ rules on flag displays. The specific California Homeowners Association policy can be found here. So, if you live in California, feel free to fly your American flag proudly, as long as you follow the rules on displaying properly outlined below.
If you rent your property, you will need to review your lease for any language restricting flag flying just so you cover your bases.
To display the American flag properly, Title 4 of the United States Code outlines how to do it properly:
- The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset
- It may be displayed at night if it’s illuminated
- When hung horizontally from a flagpole, windowsill, balcony or building, the field of stars must be at the highest point
- When hung vertically from a building or window, the stars should be on the left when looking at the flag from the street
- The American flag should be higher than any other flags flown with it
- All other flags should be the same height, with none higher than the other
As we approach the 4th of July, you’ll now know the rules to display the American flag if you live in California. If you live elsewhere, please be sure to look up your own state and HOA’s rules.