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Littleton man challenges HOA fining him for flags outside his home

LITTLETON, Colo. — Flag Day represents more than the official adoption of the American flag for a Littleton man.

For David Renner, his passion for flags means a battle with his homeowner’s association.

Southbridge Townhomes Association has a problem with the flags he hangs outside his home.

But Renner has a problem with the HOA targeting what he says is part of our collective American history.

“I love flags,” Renner says. “I love flag history.”

It’s why he owns 13 flags and flies them with pride outside his townhome in the 300 block of W. Jamison Circle in Littleton.

That was, until April.

“This is the first flag I got warned on, the Gadsden,” Renner said about the yellow, pre-revolutionary flag reading “Don’t Tread On Me.”

So, he took it down and hung his Colorado flag.

“But in May, I received a $100 fine for flying my Colorado flag,” he said.

Then, on June7, came another $200 fine, for flying his Betsy Ross flag — it has 13 stars and 13 stripes.

He flew it again, knowing the risk.

“I may be fined again,” he said.

He received a violation letter stating his flags do not meet HOA rules.

The only acceptable flag is a current United State flag with 50 stars and 13 stripes.

But Renner said he’s protected by the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005.

“That act uses a loose definition of the term American flag, any number of stars, any number of stripes, any size, any material, any flag that purports to be an American flag,” he said.

But the HOA disagreed, and said historical U.S. flags do not make the cut.

“Do they really think I’m bringing down property values? It’s not like I’m flying an Oakland Raiders flag,” he said.

Renner said he really doesn’t want to fight over his flags.

“I do not want to piss off my neighbors or make them angry. I just want to honor our history,” he said.

But he realized the freedom represented by his flags may not be the freedom he’ll find under an HOA.

“What are we gaining? What are we losing? Are we losing our freedom for a nice manicured lawn? I really hope we are not,” he said.

Renner said he plans to consult an attorney — if the attorney says he’s way off base, he’ll pay the fines and move on.

In the future, if he buys a new place, he’ll stay far away from HOAs.

48 comments

  • UncleDaKine

    …Ironic that HOA’s are always bastions of conservative naysayers and ‘get-off-my-lawn’ type busy-bodies…
    If you’re a “lover-of-freedom”, how could you live under the ‘thumb’ of a HOA anyway…
    Time to move Mr Renner, even tho’ your point is well taken.
    Apparently HOA’s are going to trump federal law on this issue…

    • robert at colorado hoa dot com

      An Irony Curtain has descended across America’s neighborhoods.

      H.O.A. corporations are a hybrid system, enforcing the wretched political aims of Communist regimes using ruthlessly efficient capitalist means. It’s a $50 billion (with a “b”) per year industry that seeks to deprive over 60,000,000 Americans of their 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th Amendment rights under the guise of contract law. Using fine print and the legal fiction of “constructive notice”, politicians, lawyers, and judges are telling American home owners that they agreed to be abused and robbed. It’s a propaganda campaign so vile and effective and Orwellian — turning the most freedom-loving of Americans into apologists for the collective ownership of your private property — that even Soviet apparatchiks couldn’t have dreamed it up. Governments have been requiring the creation of H.O.A. corporations, forcing more and more Americans home owners to give up their liberty in exchange for the false promises of protecting property values, so that we can enjoy the privileges of being “double taxed”, subjected to unlimited liability, and tread upon in our own homes.

      Living in an H.O.A. means “ВЫ ВЫЕЗЖАЕТЕ ИЗ АМЕРИКАНСКОГО СЕКТОРА”.

      See http://wp.me/p3RZ5i-aS for related thoughts.

  • G parr

    I find it interesting that the executive HOA board president continues to fly her American flag day and night without employing proper flag etiquette. I think she should be fined for failure to appropriately light the flag!!

      • livinginva

        According to the US Senate, “Thus, the Flag Code
        does not prescribe any penalties for non-compliance nor does it include enforcement
        provisions; rather the Code functions simply as a guide to be voluntarily followed by
        civilians and civilian groups.”

        If the Flag Code were actually federal law, almost every company in the US would be in violation:
        “The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner
        whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or
        handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or
        boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”

  • Phedra

    HOA’s have become like the Unions… they hold the power to make you bow to their will. They should be abolished! A man’s home is his castle and if he wishes to show his pride in his country, he should be able to do that without some busybody group giving him a fine. We have already lost too many of our rights, and now these little “splinter groups” are seeing to it that we lose even more of them. I hope he wins!!

    • robert at colorado hoa dot com

      If H.O.A. corporations are like Unions, then why isn’t the Republican Party working to extend the same protection to home owners that they want to extend to workers (i.e., “right to work” laws)? If the G.O.P. had any principles… Oh wait, I just answered my own question.

      Prohibiting mandatory membership in an H.O.A. corporation as a condition of home ownership is not a radical idea. For example, Texas’s “right to work law”

      § 101.053. Contract Requiring or Prohibiting Labor Union Membership Void
      A contract is void if it requires that, to work for an employer, employees or applicants for employment:
      (1) must be or may not be members of a labor union; or
      (2) must remain or may not remain members of a labor union. (Enacted 1993.)

      could easily become

      Contract Requiring or Prohibiting H.O.A. Membership Void
      A contract is void if it requires that, to own a home, home owners or home buyers:
      (1) must be or may not be members of an H.O.A. corporation; or
      (2) must remain or may not remain members of an H.O.A. corporation.

      It is a very Republican solution to a problem that the Democrat Party, especially Colorado State Senator Morgan Carroll, has been worse than usless in addressing for the past decade.

      See http://wp.me/p3RZ5i-8t for related thoughts. It’s a long blog post, but it does get to a point, so please bear with it.

  • John H.

    Most HOAs are run by little Hitlers that could stand a good butt whipping to put them in their place.

  • Dan Cha

    Hitler Ownership Association, You don’t have the right to think for yourself under the HOA. Move out from the Reign of the HOA if you don’t like it!

  • T Pow

    If he hadn’t violated the HOA flag ordinance twice before, receiving a warning and a fine already, I’d feel for the guy. He cannot claim ignorance; he knows that what he is doing is not permitted in his neighborhood. I don’t know why the article mentions Flag Day when he received the fine a week before Flag Day.

  • law492

    Retain a lawyer knowledgeable in both condo law and the federal rules of procedure, particularly as to the rules pertaining to discovery. Take these leftist tyrants to court, preferably federal district court and have your lawyer “ream them a new one” with requests to admit, interrogatories and finally depositions which will expose the HOA for what has become in your development. A skilled lawyer will lay a foundation for costs associated with discovery and possibly punitive/exemplary damages. After you get a judgment, aggressively pursue your creditor’s rights and unless they pay in full, pursue seizure and sale of the “common areas” and set up fees for use of “common areas, parkland, pool and just about everything else”. And when you move out, sell to a party which will make them appreciate and wish for the “good old days” when you were their neighbor. At that point, justice will prevail and make them realize you were serious when you posted the Gadsden Flag; “Don’t tread on me.”

  • Luke

    I think the question being asked is wether or not HOAs rules can supplant federal law. You know they can’t discriminate or violate human rights. Where do we draw the line on how far HOA rules can cut into law. Reguardless of the rules in his lease agreement it does he not have the right to expect the law won’t be violated?
    Gadsden flag on the other hand is pre-revolutionary, which by definition is not a national U.S. Flag.

  • Wesley Clark

    The boards of homeowner’s associations tend to be infested with small minds that aspire to tell everyone in their neighborhood what to do, typically small-mind Liberals, with a smattering of other crackpots. The simple question here is: what harm was done, by respectfully flying an original and historic American flag design, to celebrate the adoption of our flag, on flag day? Perhaps some persons ignorant of American history would actually have been stimulated to learn. I can see why some might object to the Gadsden flag, but wouldn’t a simple request to remove it have been sufficient?

  • Ron

    I too live in a HOA controlled subdivision. At first, they controlled what kind of Christmas decorations we could have outside. Now they are banned altogether as offensive. We pay monthly fees to have our rights violated. My house is for sale.

  • Tim

    Maybe they would be more accepting of you if you flew the homosexual flag,or one that has a marijuana leaf on it.

  • Anymouse2

    I am surprised to hear that he was fined even for flying the State flag. I would think the mayor of the area his HOA was in, as well as the Governor, would take exception to the idea that somewhere in Colorado, it is illegal to fly a Colorado State Flag.

  • Marcel

    Wake Up Call – Under the Constitution, he has the right to fly ANY flag he wishes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • George

    Until the 48 star flag there wasn’t even an official pattern for the stars in the canton. Any flag that was an official flag is still a flag of the U. S. It seems the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is alive and well in Colorado.

  • Nila

    HOAs are destroying lives in America! This is one among thousands of other reasons Ward Lucas wrote his book exposing HOAs and condo associations for what they are. It can be found on his website neighborsatwar dot com

    Very few people buy into an HOA knowing the truth. What’s the truth you may be asking? There are three. 1) When the ink dried you signed away your US Constitutional Rights. 2) You become business partners with every single one of your neighbors in a non-profit corporation. 3) You signed for permission to be assessed fines and any other assessment the board deems justifiable so your bank account became at risk for paying the loans, lawsuit settlements, legal bills, construction defect repairs, and disaster rebuilds. This is the tip of the story…Ward Lucas tells the rest!

  • robert at colorado hoa dot com

    If you want to see the Libertarian Party and Republican Party vision for America, look at H.O.A.s.

    What is there about governance by an unregulated private corporation, under the guise of contract law, with no consumer protections, for a Tea Partyin’ disciple of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan not to love?

  • David Renner supporter

    Typical HOA. I think they are rejects for ata agents. they want to have a alot of power and they are a bunch of a holes.

  • Anonymous

    Follow the rules you said you read when you purchased your unit. Crying to the media is just that- crying. Get involved!
    Rules can’t be changed without a majority vote. So vote. Be proactive. You can always move to areas with no HOA’s and watch your values fall because people park on their lawns, trash their properties and paint their houses bright gaudy colors

    • robert at colorado hoa dot com

      > Follow the rules you said you read when you purchased your unit.

      Nobody “agreed” to these things. The “contract” is a legal ficiton known as “constructive notice”, i.e., the CC&Rs were filed with the county, therefore the home owner “should” have known about them. The concept of “constructive notice” is best explained in this 2 minute video clip from the 1981 BBC-TV version of “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” :

    • robert at colorado hoa dot com

      > You can always move to areas with no HOA’s

      Municipal governments across the country have been mandating the creation of H.O.A. corporations for decades, as a way to “double-tax” the home owners. This has created a massive distortion in the housing market, leaving consumers in many areas with little choice. The growth of H.O.A.s over the past 30-or-so years has been supply-driven by developers and governments, not demand-driven by consumers.

      ref: Steven Siegel. “The Public Role in Establishing Private Residential Communities: Towards a New Formulation of Local Government Land Use Policies that Eliminates the Legal Requirements to Privatize New Communities in the United States”. Urban Lawyer. Fall 2006.
      Also “On the Commons” April 28 2007: http://onthecommons.us/images/stories/shows/04282007siegel.mp3

    • robert at colorado hoa dot com

      > watch your values fall

      And here we come to the “Big Lie”, that H.O.A.s “preserve property values”, an assertion for which no evidence has been given. The perfect laboratory to test this hypothesis would have been the housing market collapse that began in 2006. If the values of properties governed by an H.O.A. corporation had been preserved while housing prices fell everywhere else, the Community Associations Institute — the H.O.A. lobby’s national organization — would have been shouting that fact from the rooftops.

      To paraphrase Ben Franklin, “He who gives up liberty for the false promises of protecting property values will receive neither”.

  • John Keller

    Time to sell your house and the day you leave, put up the Soviet or Chinese communist flag as a parting gift for the HOA.

  • DrD

    His statement that the flag is “loosely defined” in the code seems to be incorrect:

    The words “flag, standard, colors, or ensign”, as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America

  • Mariah Canfield-Jones

    i do hate HOAs, the ones i lived under were so nosy and not really helpful, most of the time, the HOA will make rules up as they go, or they will either say what is in or out without consideration of others around them.

  • Larry Benson

    It’s not a matter of having a “flag fetish” it’s the fact that hundreds of thousands of men and women, myself included, have fought for the freedom to fly that flag if they want and no HOA should ever be allowed to tell the man that he can’t.

  • Ron Taft, jr.

    If you, Robert Gift, have a problem with the American Flag(s) then get out of the United States

  • Anonymous

    You couldn’t be more wrong. It is appropriate to fly any previous version of the American flag as a representation of the current American flag. It is federal law, you don’t like laws? You must have voted for Obama.

  • Anymouse2

    I would say the HOA lost any points for reasonableness when they fined him for flying the Colorado State flag as well.

  • James

    I am still fighting for this country. It doesn’t change the fact that they live in an area with an HOA. He moved in when there was already a HOA in place and knew the rules. Fly your current American Flag or move. No one forced you to move into a place with a group of people with so little to do in life that they have to freak out over the slightest infraction.

  • Duh

    HOAs are governed. Get up off your arse and head down to the monthly meetings and see what’s happening in your community. If you dont like the current Board or the way they are running things, put your name in the hat for the HOA election the next time it’s held and you will be the next in line to be hated by the rule-breakers. It doesn’t matter whether its flying the flag, staking down in your lawn your local e-church’s “come pray(prey) online” banner, painting the driveway the color the idiot at Home Depot suggested after a few drinks or not mowing your grass….the rule-breakers will always find a justification why it’s the Boards fault and how HOAs are ruining America. Funny those are the same people who ask the Board if the HOA can do anything to “screen” renters to keep out “Canadians”. Sheesh, gotta take the good with the bad folks when it comes to HOAs. Mow your grass, pay your dues, ask before you paint or make changes to your home and you just might never hear from your HOA.

  • phedrap

    The problem with that is, they often change the rules AFTER you buy your home. Some busybody gets a bee in their bonnet and doesn’t like something so the board meets and they add on another rule. They shouldn’t even HAVE HOA’s. One should not have to pay someone else just to live where they want to live. It’s hard to find an area that doesn’t have some HOA trying to run things. If anything, the HOA’s need to be governed so they can’t take away a person’s rights.

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