Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Law Gives Homeowners Flag Display Rights

March 2, 2010

By Rich Griset
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A bill prohibiting homeowners’ associations from regulating a properly displayed U.S. flag has passed both the House and the Senate and now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

House Bill 956, sponsored by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, would give a property owner the right to display a U.S. flag as long as it complies with the federal Flag Code.

“A unit owners’ association may, however, establish reasonable restrictions as to the size, place, duration, and manner of placement or display of the flag provided such restrictions are necessary to protect a substantial interest of the unit owners’ association,” the bill states.

A fight over the issue made national headlines in December when retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot challenged his homeowners’ association in Henrico County.

Barfoot, a 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient and veteran of three wars, refused to take down his flag and flagpole after being ordered to do so by his homeowners’ association. Barfoot’s refusal stirred up support from politicians and citizens, including U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and U.S. Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-Va.

Stephen Spiker, a legislative aide to Lingamfelter, said that while citizens like Barfoot would benefit from the bill, Barfoot wasn’t the only person the delegate had in mind while drafting the legislation.

“We know it’s going to help a lot of people,” Spiker said.

usflag.jpg 

Interest groups that support the bill include the Community Association Institute, which lobbies on behalf of homeowners’ associations.

The House voted 99-0 for the HB 956 on Feb. 11. Last week, the Senate followed suit with a 40-0 vote.

Spiker said he is confident that Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign the bill into law. “Politically, it’s a winner.”