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When HOA community standards create conflict

Should a member of a homeowners’ association be able to fly an American flag in his personal yard space? Like other states, Missouri law has rules that govern condominium associations. The law stipulates that an association may institute and amend such things for the organization such as bylaws, rules, and budgets.

Boards and Management

A homeowners’ association (HOA) board is made up of volunteer members that are also owners in the association. Boards are responsible for the enforcement of the HOA rules that at their best, keep order in the neighborhood and promote the condition of common spaces. An HOA usually hires a management company to administrate the property and maintain the overall buildings and grounds of the development.

Controversy

In Ohio, a controversy has erupted over an unlikely subject, the display of an American flag on a flagpole. A veteran, who got verbal approval several years ago from his HOA’s board to fly Old Glory in his front yard, recently received a letter from the management company contracted to administer the development. It was a notice to stop flying the flag and take down the flagpole. The letter alleged that the existence of the flagpole violated the HOA’s community space’s rules.

A Lesson for Boards

Neighbors of the veteran have rallied around him and added their voices to his protest on Facebook. The management company states that they will take his case to the HOA’s board. The situation had inflamed community members and caused bad will towards the management structure of the association. This case magnifies the need for an HOA board to work in tandem with their management company to avoid situations with a high potential for conflict.

A Caution for Management

When in doubt about the interpretation of board by-laws and regulations, management professionals need to communicate with the board that they represent. If both entities have a question about the legal advisability of a bylaw interpretation, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel. With communication and sound advice, your HOA can avoid a public relations disaster like this one.

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