Regulation of Display of American and North Carolina Flags in HOA & Condominium Associations

Adam Marshall
Adam Marshall

Happy Fourth of July!  It is the time of year when our firm gets many questions regarding the display of United States and North Carolina flags in their community associations. 

Summer is a popular time of year for sun, sand, BBQ cookouts, and for display of patriotism!  In our experience, we have found that most associations encourage the patriotic display of the United States and North Carolina flags, however reasonable restrictions on flag displays are common in community association governing documents.

Both the North Carolina Planned Community and Condominium Acts limit the way in which associations restrict the display of the United States and North Carolina flags.  Particularly N.C.G.S § 47F-3-121 and § 47C-3-121 state that community restrictions may not regulate or prohibit the display of the United States or North Carolina flags of a size no greater than four feet by six feet, and which are displayed in a manner consistent with 4 U.S.C. §§ 5-10, which governs the display and use of the United States flag unless:

  1. For restrictions registered prior to October 1, 2005, the restrictions use the following terms: Flag of the United States of America, American flag, Unites States flag, or North Carolina Flag. 
  2. For restrictions registered on or after October 1, 2005, the first page of the recorded instrument states in capital letters, bold face type, and in a print that is no smaller than the largest print used elsewhere in the instrument that: “THIS DOCUMENT REGULATES OR PROHIBITS THE DISPLAY OF THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA OR STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA.”

Federal law also speaks to community association restrictions on the display of the United States flag. It 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 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.” However, the law also states that reasonable restrictions pertaining to the time, place, or manner of displaying the flag of the United States that are necessary to protect a substantial interest of the association are appropriate.

If you are seeking to enforce restrictions on the usage of these types of flags, you should be aware of the verbiage used in your governing documents and you should know when your restrictions were recorded.  Both are vital in understanding the association’s enforcement power on this issue.  Our attorneys at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A. can assist your association in understanding their authority in light of their recorded restrictions and State/Federal law. My colleague David Wilson wrote a flag blog for South Carolina associations a few years ago: Flag Displays in South Carolina Homeowners Associations and Condominiums If you live in South Carolina, please contact one of our South Carolina licensed attorneys.

See also: The U.S. Flag Code and Proper Use of the Flag.