Attorney discusses legality of HOA fining residents for flying American Flag

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MURRAY - A Home Owners Association in Murray says they want to regulate how, when, and where homeowners can fly the American Flag, and attorney Quinn Sperry says they may be able to do just that.

"Essentially, you're entering into a contractual obligation with your neighbors," Sperry said of being a part of an HOA. "You can be giving up some of your rights."

Chestnut Place is a condominium complex in Murray. It is a complex composed of roughly 60 home owners. Erin Worthen says she and her neighbors were fined $75 for flying the American Flag earlier this week.

"People have died for that," Worthen contends. "We have a right to fly our flags.”

Worthen had hoped the HOA would reconsider their stance on the flag and had planned to discuss the issue during a home owner's meeting Thursday night, but board officials canceled the meeting at the last second.

"Just because she’s not going to get her way, she’s going to shut it down,” Worthen said.

She said she believes the president of the HOA canceled the meeting to skirt the issue.

However, an attorney representing the board disagrees, and states that home owners' rights are not being violated.

"Certainly citizens have the right to fly the flag, but it’s not unlimited," said Peter Harrison, the attorney representing the HOA. "It’s restricted to exclusive use of areas that are in their control, and in a condominium it is not wherever the owner thinks it can be displayed.”

Harrison said the HOA has a say in whether flags can be flown in common areas, areas not specifically owned by condo homeowners.

"The common areas include the roofs, the outside walls," Harrison said.

Quinn Sperry agrees with Harrison's breakdown of HOA regulations.

Looking at a map in his office, Sperry points to the areas that are considered common areas in condominiums, “The clear white is the common area," he said while pointing to outside walls of the condo. "So when you are looking at the walls, that’s common area. The roof area, that’s common area, which is not owned by one particular owner, it’s owned collectively by the owners."

Sperry said not all homeowners are subject to the same HOA rules. He said there are differences between condo owners and homeowners, and regulations can vary between developments.

20 comments

  • Craig Smith

    These HOA groups have run amok. I would NEVER live in an area with an HOA unless the HOA is managed and run by the actual residents of the neighborhood. Many HOA arrangements originate with a management company chosen by the builders with the promise it will eventually be turned over to the residents. That situation rarely, if ever occurs. Those who manage the HOA usually do not reside in those neighborhoods so you set yourself up for a war between residents and a management company who makes the ridiculous rules residents are forced to adhere to. Why would anyone agree to an arrangement like that?

    • JC (@C_JJ81)

      I was on the board of an HOA, wanted to put some changes up to a vote for the residents to make, the “President” as well as the HOA management refused to even put it out there for the residents. The problem with HOA is you get a President in there who wants everything to be the way they want it, and they don’t care about others.

  • Tiffany

    It seems that most of the residents want to fly the flag, since it is a community they all live in and are fine with the flag being up why not change it. It seems there is one or two people complaining but, I guess that is what it has come to. Take away the rights of many to appease the very few.

    • Tiffany

      I read on an earlier article it was one person complaining(I believe she was president of the board), I know it doesn’t state that in this article.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    Vote in a new HOA board, terminate the attorney’s employment, and fly the American flag. Its just that simple.

  • ERIC ANDERSON

    Attorneys like Mr. Quinn Sperry put their pants on one leg at a time just like every other man. What Mr. Sperry thinks the law about flags is and what the US Supreme Court thinks on the subject appears to be in conflict.

    • David Cook

      They need to do more legal research. Someone pointed out to me the other day that there is a federal law that says no one can say when and where you can fly the flag. Food for thought here for the HOA.

    • Dan Gray

      Sorry, the attorneys here are full of ****!! The Freedom to Fly the American Flag Act of 2005 makes it a federal felony for ANY HOA to try and force the residents to remove the American Flag. Period End of Story! Federal Law overturns ALL contracts like this, as well as any local-county-or state law. Meaning IF the HOA dares try to remove the flags or fines anyone for it, they face conviction of federal law and a 10 year prison term as well as a 250,000.00 fine for violations of this law. And according to federal regulations and statutes, each SEPARATE DAY the law is in violation is a SEPARATE chargeable offense complete with jail time and fines or both.

      I would not pay to have either of these attorneys represent me if they didn

    • Dan Gray

      The “freedom to fly the American Flag Act of 2005 states the following:

      “SEC. 3. RIGHT TO DISPLAY THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.
      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 a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States 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.”

      Now can someone explain to me how a brain dead attorney can say it says that the HOA can restrict anything?

  • ANOTHERBOB

    UPDATE – The president of the HOA board has resigned. The woman who was fined for flying the flag may be voted in to take her place. I doubt the witch had any idea the story would hit the national news. I almost feel sorry for her.

    • David Cook

      Love the replies! I feel the same way! I will never in a HOA community because of issues like this and many others.

    • Dan Gray

      Good. She can still be convicted of a federal felony as she had her hand in the sending out of the fine notices that violated federal law.

      And the others who complained about this being “flag row” may just want to follow suit and resign. And the residents that made that statement and complained may seriously want to give thought of moving out of the area as once word gets out (and it will) the neighbors may not take too kindly to them anymore.

      • Dan M

        My concern in this and other possible situations is the definition of “common area”. The walls of the home I live in, my front, back, side and roof are NOT common areas. I would not want my community to be allowed to plant a cornfield on my roof.

      • Dan Gray

        Makes no difference, the federal is very specific, it says the HOA CANNOT ban the American Flag, period. Makes no difference what they say. HOA’s have tried this in at least 16 states and have had their arses handed to them by judges over and over and over again. In fact the HOA’s have lost EVERY time they tried a ban!

        “SEC. 3. RIGHT TO DISPLAY THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES.
        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 a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States 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.”

  • Kendall

    7/24/2006–Public Law.

    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.

    • Dan Gray

      If you are implying the HOA can ban the flag, then you are incorrect. HOA’s have tried in 42 states to ban the US Flag from being flown, and they have lost in every case that was taken to court.

      you would think that this should have taught these HOA’s something.

  • ANOTHERANOTHERBOB

    It looks like the attorneys supporting the power hungry old battle axe who was president of the HOA board aren’t any smarter than she was. Hopefully the people who she stepped on will rub her nose in it.

Comments are closed.