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Associations Must Allow Flags

Question: I am a military veteran. Over Memorial Day weekend, I displayed my American flag outside my home. I intend to display the same flag for the Fourth of July. I recently received a letter from my homeowners’ association stating that I cannot display my flag until I submit an application to do so, and until I receive approval from the Board of Directors. My main concern is that our Board does not meet over the summer months, and therefore I am concerned that I will not receive the required approval until fall. Can the association prevent me from displaying my flag on Fourth of July? (C.A. via e-mail)

Answer: Probably not.
Thank you for your service. Section 720.304(2) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act states that any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of Florida in a “respectful” manner, and one portable, removable official flag that is not larger than 4 ½ 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. A homeowner may also erect a freestanding flagpole not 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 as long as the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement.
Additionally, in 2005, Congress passed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act to ensure that the right of an individual to display the United States flag on residential property not be abridged. The law generally provides that a condominium association, cooperative, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy that would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association. The law does permit associations to adopt reasonable restrictions pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States necessary to protect a substantial interest of the association.

Question: Recently I contacted my condominium association’s management office to inquire about renting the clubhouse for a private party. The association forwarded me a form to fill out regarding the reservation, and the form stated that I was required to pay a $50 fee to have private use of the clubhouse. Can the Association charge me to use the clubhouse? (M.N. via e-mail)

Answer:Yes, the Condominium Act allows the association to charge a fee for the exclusive use of portions of the condominium property. Section 718.111(4), Florida Statutes, states that the association may not charge a fee against a unit owner for the use of the common elements or association property, unless such fee is provided for in the declaration, authorized by a majority vote of the association, or unless the charge relates to expense incurred by an owner having exclusive use of the common elements or association property.
As such, if the association is charging you a fee related to your exclusive use of a portion of the common elements or association property, here you stated it was the clubhouse, the fee is permissible under the statute.

Joe Adams is an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., Fort Myers. Send questions to Joe Adams by e-mail to jadams@bplegal.com. Past editions may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com

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