Posted by Jonathan J. Miller -Monday, June 12, 2006, 12:01 AM
Since we are in the zenith of American flag season between Memorial Day and 4th of July and there have been so many new homeowners of late (Fannie Mae says that 69% of all Americans own their home) that I was intrgued by the fact that there are many of us who are unable to fly the flag.
In Jay Romano’s article Why Some Americans Can’t Fly the Flag [NYT], most rental tenants, co-op and condo owners are restricted. This also applies to many planned urban developments, and properties located in private associations.
the federal Constitution does not prevent a co-op or condominium from enforcing rules pertaining to the appearance of the building. Just as a board can stop you from painting your window frames purple, it can stop you from hanging a flag from them.”
However, state laws are inconsistent. In the article, he cites Connecticut and New York as not having laws pertaining to flag displays while New Jersey does.
Tenants need to refer to their leases and co-op and condo owners need to refer to their homeowner association rules for guidance. Where there are such restrictions for external display, many are able to display them inside their windows.
There are organizations that actively seek to overturn the any such restrictions. In many cases, these rules have been in existence prior to when the unit was purchased so it should come as no surprise. If not, then the unit owner should have the option of going through the political process within the organization to try to get the rule overturned or modified.
For people who both want to, and are able to, display the flag can refer to Title 4 of the United States Code for guidance.
I am all for patriotism but I can only imagine the public safety nightmare if residential occupants of highrise buildings were allowed to attach flagpoles outside of their units. Then again, imagine the safety issues of all those window air conditioning units that are hanging outside all those windows high above the pedestrians below.