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Lawsuit filed in American flag HOA dispute

Many California residents choose to live in planned communities with strict homeowner association rules covering issues ranging from the color of front doors to what type of vehicle owners can park in their driveways. These rules are designed to protect property prices and prevent unruly property owners or tenants from disrupting the community, but they sometimes prompt bitter disputes and protracted legal battles.

One such case is currently attracting headlines in South Carolina. A U.S. Air Force veteran has filed a lawsuit against his homeowner association after they denied his application to fly an American flag on his property. The association allows small flags to be mounted to homes, but the veteran wanted to mount his Stars and Stripes on a removable freestanding flagpole. The homeowners association claims that the flag would dominate the neighborhood and prompt other residents to mount flags of their own.

The HOA rules make no direct reference to the American flag. The board claims that specific rules are not needed because the issue is covered by covenants and restrictions dealing with signs. South Carolina law states that individuals may display the American flag in a respectful manner regardless of deeds, homeowner association rules or lease agreements.

Attorneys who have litigated homeowner disputes may urge property owners to seek an amicable resolution whenever possible. These conflicts often set neighbor against neighbor and can lead to uncomfortable relationships. Attorneys would likely advise property owners who are upset about restrictions or rules to seek legal advice before confronting their neighbors or homeowner association. Attorneys could also help individuals to avoid these disputes by scrutinizing restrictions and covenants before real estate transactions are concluded.

Source: Myrtle Beach Online, "A vet wanted a yard flagpole in North Myrtle. That ignited an HOA dispute, lawsuit says", Hannah Strong, Feb. 5, 2019

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