Condominium Dispute Over American Flag
If you own a condominium, can your condo association prevent you from flying an American flag over your balcony? That’s the question that has arisen for a condo owner in Jacksonville, Florida, according to a recent article from local NBC 12 First Coast News. What are the issues involved in this condominium dispute? And how will the homeowner need to resolve the condo association dispute?
Details of the Flag Flying
If you pull up into the parking lot of the Ortega Yacht Club Condominium, you’re likely to see Vanessa Danford’s American flag hanging from her balcony. But the condo association has requested that Danford remove the flag. Given that Danford wants to keep the flag flying, she’s currently in the midst of a significant dispute with the condo association.
Providing a reason for her decision to hang the flag, Danford has emphasized, “I love America, I love this country.” She first hung the flag on July 4th of last year, and by September the condo association had “told her to remove it from the balcony.” Danford argues that her flag “is not hurting anybody” and that she should be allowed to keep it up.
In the meantime, the flag has led to some significant criminal problems, including one in which “a teenager was caught on camera destroying her flag.” To be sure, the police have been called out to the Ortega Yacht Club Condominium on multiple occasions, and Danford indicates that she has eleven different police reports. But the president of the condo association, Greg Cook, doesn’t think these incidents should have any bearing on whether Danford can keep her flag flying.
If the issue isn’t the message of the American flag—patriotism, for instance—then what grounds does the condo association have to require Danford to take down the display?
Rules Concerning Common Areas
According to Cook, the problem simply isn’t the American flag. Rather, the problem is the location of the flag—the balcony. As he explained, “it is the fact they’re hanging banners in the common areas.” To be sure, “the condo supports residents flying [flags] but the rule is very clear [that] nothing is to be placed in the common areas.”
Cook underlines that the rule is content neutral. Speaking of the flag’s placement on the balcony—considered a common area—he reiterated that, if the condo association allows Danford to keep the flag in that location, “it lends itself to precedent.” He clarified that, “if it is not the flag, it is a beach towel, and it is not appropriate.”
Danford has received a demand letter requiring that she remove the flag “on or before March 16th.” Danford hasn’t decided whether she’ll remove the flag. However, it’s important to remember that homeowners do have rights with regard to their property, but condo owners are bound by certain rules and regulations developed by the condo association.
Condo association disputes can be complicated. Depending on the specific details of your situation, condo disputes can demand arbitration. It’s important to understand your rights in relation to the regulations of the condo association. An experienced Hollywood condo association dispute lawyer can review your case and discuss your options with you today. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.