Flower pot flag has veteran at odds with HOA, which wants to foreclose on his home

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Larry Murphree says that a small American flag in a flower pot outside his home is causing him colossal problems with his homeowner's association. FOX affiliate WAWS says the veteran has been told by the association that he owes an $8,000 fine for breaking display rules, but worse, he tells WAWS that a foreclosure lien has been put on his house.

"I want it to go away. It's such a minor, little thing and they keep coming after me," Murphree told WAWS.

He's been at odds with the HOA in the Sweetwater community for more than two years. He previously fought a similar fight and filed a lawsuit, eventually settling out of court. However, the flag display rules were rewritten with the HOA saying that he is once again in violation.

WAWS wanted to know if what the homeowner's association was doing is legal. One legal expert they spoke with said that a Florida statute mandates he can legally fly his flag. But when the station asked one the HOA's lawyers, she said that if a fine payment isn't made within 30 days, the foreclosure can move forward.

As the legal wrangling drags on, one thing is known, Murphree won't take the flag out of the pot.

"When I first moved here, I loved it, it was wonderful. But it got where I'm being nitpicked more and more. I've lost a lot of friends and neighbors moving out. I don't want to move," he told WAWS.

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  • kckid

    I’ve found that most hoa orgs are perfectly fine, I live in a great neighborhood with a good hoa. The Florida hoa’s seem to be bad tho, must be all the old nosy grouchy NIMBY busybodies that have nothing else to do!

  • HOA Board member

    State and Federal Laws Protect Some Flag Displays

    If the flag your HOA is prohibiting is the good old stars and stripes, the HOA is probably out of line. Your right to display the United States flag is protected by federal law. The “Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005” makes it illegal for an HOA to restrict owners from displaying a U.S. flag.

  • Renee Delray

    Dateline Jacksonville, FL, June 26, 2014
    The Tides Condominium at Sweetwater by Del Webb, Inc. (“Tides”) would like to formally respond to your recent media release associated with the current flower pot violation and recorded lien on Larry Murphree’s property as they were inaccurately reported. The Tides agrees with Mr. Murphree about demonstrating patriotism by flying the American flag. We have established rules that conform with the U.S. Code and Florida statutes regarding flag etiquette, and we encourage residents to fly American flags in accordance with the state and national standards.

    The Association has not prohibited any owner from properly displaying an American flag. In June 2013, Murphree filed a federal action alleging the Association’s rules and regulations regarding flower pots violated the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005. The Court dismissed this cause of action concluding the “Flag Act of 2005 does not provide any enforcement mechanism, or explicitly create a private right of action for individuals such as Murphree to bring a lawsuit against a condominium association.” To date, there is no pending litigation between the Association and Mr. Murphree.

    The story suggests and implies that the Tides is foreclosing on Mr. Muphree based on fines associated with flying the American flag. The Tides is not foreclosing on Mr. Murphree’s property for improperly displaying the American Flag. The Tides seeks the monies due to from Mr. Murphree as it does with other owners whose accounts are delinquent. The Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the Association and all its residents. This includes ensuring that all monies due to the Association are collected. We prefer such payments to be made voluntarily, but when they are not, after due notice, we take all appropriate legal steps to ensure the financial soundness of our Association. A lien has been filed against the property, but despite Mr. Murphree’s claims, this lien relates to his failure to pay regular monthly assessments.

    The federal opinion may be located at:

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