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Ohio's Flag Laws: What You Can and Can't Enforce | Legal Insights Blog

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Ohio's Flag Laws: What You Can and Can't Enforce


There is legislation in Ohio governing restrictions on the display of the U.S. Flag, the State of Ohio Flag, and various U.S. service flags. The new legislation is the result of unit owners in condominiums disputing rules pertaining to the display of flags and from a dispute between a landlord and tenant who was told, after 30 years of flying her U.S. Flag, that it was a violation of her lease agreement. The Bill was brought before the Ohio legislature to expand the rights of individuals to display various patriotic flags.

The Bill was passed by the House and Senate in the Ohio Legislature, signed into law by Governor Kasich, and will become effective March 21, 2017. The new legislation essentially prohibits mobile home parks, condominium associations, homeowners’ associations, neighborhood associations, and landlords from prohibiting the display of the following flags in addition to the U.S. Flag: the State flag, the POW/MIA flag, blue star banners, gold star banners, and other service flags designated as such by the U.S. Secretary of Defense. The service flags approved by the U.S. Secretary of Defense can be displayed in a window of a residence if that residence has a member of the immediate family currently serving, or has previously served, in the military.

Ohio Revised Code §5301.072 generally prohibits any covenant, rule, deed restriction, regulation, bylaw or other governing document, including a rental agreement, from prohibiting the placement of a flag pole or U.S. flag entirely, so long as those restrictions follow patriotic customs for both the flags and flag poles,  and do not violate any federal and state laws or local ordinances.

For condominiums specifically, Ohio Revised Code §5311.191 states the association’s board cannot prohibit placement of a flag pole for displaying the U.S. flag, MIA/POW flags, State flag, or service flags upon or within the limited common elements of a Unit owner or the immediate exterior area of the building adjacent to where the Unit is located. Again, service flags can be displayed in the window of a residence where a member of the immediate family is serving or has served in the military.

For landlords, Ohio Revised Code §5321.131 provides that no landlord can include in the rental agreement, a restriction that would prohibit the display of the U.S. flag, MIA/POW flag, the State flag or the display of service flags. Tenants do have specific notice requirements that must be provided to the landlord prior to displaying one of the flags.

All flags and service banners must be displayed using the proper federal patriotic customs and not in violation of any state or local ordinances. The flag poles must meet the congressional standards for flag poles. Also, the flag and flag pole must be of an appropriate size consistent with the size and character of the buildings that are subject to the HOA, condominium, or other type of community association. 

Robin Strohm

Robin Strohm

Ms. Strohm has been practicing law since 2004 and is a principal of the firm Williams & Strohm, LLC. As a member of the Ohio and Columbus Bar Associations, she is admitted to practice in all Ohio courts and the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Read Robin Strohm's full bio.