There is one argument being made against this
A Very Emotional Fight !
By Jan Bergemann
The legal battle for flying flags in deed-restricted
communities is going on for years all over the nation. It has been fought
on a very emotional battleground and the parties involved seem to be unwilling
to give any ground.
The story of the Florida
Jupiter Flag Man, George Andres, and the Virginia
court battle of Richard Oulton was waged long before the terrorist
attacks on September 11.
You knew the CC&Rs (or Deed Restrictions)
before you moved in. It says : no flag-pole in your front yard!
Well, that is clearly the fairy tale used
by the industry in defense of law-suits, which are piling up in homeowners'
associations. The CC&Rs are mostly written in a language much
too broadly. The wording can be interpreted any which way, depending how
the HOA attorney and the management company like it, or the way they feel
it's convenient. Many of the CC&Rs state for example : no lawn ornaments
without approval of Architectural Review Committee. As a reasonable person
would you consider a flag pole to fly Old Glory a "lawn ornament"?
I guess you have to be part of the industry
to come up with such a far fetched interpretation.
In an official
statement the CAI (Community Association Institute ) has asked
their members to ease off prosecuting "violators" of flag restrictions
in light of the September terrorist acts. But just for about half a year,
until this sudden show of patriotism dies down again? The Proposed
Resolution is limited for 180 days.
Please don't forget that quite a few of
these communities use this fine system to add to the income and to avoid
having to have Special Assessments. In cases like this it's always great
to be a friend of a board member. Because Selective Enforcement is the
Name of the Game!
The fairy tale in question is: DISCLOSURE.
Despite the fact that many States require disclosure to home buyers, none
is known to enforce it.
In Florida F.S.
689.26 Disclosure Statement Summary is often quoted, but never
enforced! And so the industry often plainly ignores it. There have been
enough cases where homeowners found out they are living in a HOA only after
they received a reminder from a management company over unpaid HOA dues
more than half a year after they moved in. So much for disclosure or the
argument that the homeowner knew before what he/she was getting into. The
fact is : 90% of the homeowners buying into a HOA are not being honestly
informed what the real deal is, or that developers are known to change
the CC&Rs in midstream without notifying the homeowners. Just a little
All this is done under the cover-up of
protecting property values. First : that's another great story to fool
innocent home buyers. There is absolutely no proof that property values
are better protected in a deed-restricted community. Actually, in our area
lots outside the homeowners' associations increased much more in value
than inside our HOA.
And do you honestly believe that your neighbor
flying "Old Glory" in a respectful manner from a flag pole will lower your
or your neighbor's property values?
Please, get real! Don't fall for the false
advertising of the industry, wanting you to believe that living in a deed-restricted
community is "carefree living"! Believe me, it's not, and it's getting
worse by the day!
What is wrong in a country where you need
the permission of an "Architectural Review Board" of a private corporation
to fly "Old Glory" from a flagpole in your own private front yard, officially
owned and paid for by you?
I would say :"Nearly everything!"
I guess our founding fathers would turn
in their graves if they would know what is really going on here!
But it seems like our politicians are finally
willing to get involved in this battle. A great statement by Florida
Governor Jeb Bush and a News Release
from Arizona State Senators seem to get things on the right track.
Some Florida legislators tried to pass HB 21 B(successful,
see article) and
SB 098 B in a recent special
session, but it died in the Committee.
have been printed all over the Nation.
Articles like : "Hanging
On Tight to Patriotism" filled the news media.
In an Open Letter
dated 9-29-2001 our organization asked our politicians to take care
of these problems, where homeowners are in danger of loosing their homes
battling these issues.
A Proposed Resolution
was suggested, which could be used until a final solution can be agreed
But the hope of all Florida homeowners
hinges in the newly proposed bills for the next regular session.
Geller filed SB 148, Representative
Sobel Companion bill HB 177.
Cowin filed SB 150 and Representative
Baxley Companion Bill HB 331
And our Florida Governor Jeb Bush assured
us in an e-mail dated 11-16-2001 :
(Quote) "I will support a bill to
allow flagpoles to exist in deed restricted communities. It will be done
in the regular session. I am not on any game.
Thank you, Governor, for this great statement!
Please see our Dispatch
dated 11 - 18 - 2001
But as mentioned before, none of these
prefiled bills addresses the issue of flag poles and/or brackets. In my
personal opinion they are an open invitation for abusive boards and inventive
attorneys for more law-suits. SB 150 and HB 331 even threaten violators
of this section with a misdemeanor of the second degree. But who guarantees
that violations will be prosecuted? Please remember that the office of
our General Attorney Bob Butterworth is claiming that they can't prosecute
of fraudulent landsales, a felony of the third degree,
according to F.S.
498.022 , for lack of funds. Developers all over Florida are
taking advantage of the opportunity to ignore these laws without having
to fear the wrath of any prosecution, knowing full well that most homeowners
just can't afford the expense of seeking justice in a civil court!
How will this problem finally be solved?
Code : Words and sentences
in blue, underlined, are direct links to the related documents! Please
click to read!