Renters - want to fly a U.S. flag? Check with your landlord first

Renters - want to fly a U.S. flag? Check with your landlord first »Play Video
Vera Brookshier believes she has every right to fly an American flag outside her apartment. But in reality, the landlord has every right to ask her to take it down. KATU photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Do you have the right to hang an American flag outside your apartment?

Not if the landlord says you can't.

Vera Brookshier, who lives at Bethany Meadows Apartments in Northwest Portland, was asked to get rid of a number of items she had on her patio - and that included an American flag.

That didn't sit well with Brookshier, who feels she should have the right to fly the flag.

"I was offended more than anything else," she said.

You see, the message is more than patriotism for Brookshier. She also flies a Navy flag, which is deeply personal because it's in remembrance of her husband, John. He died in June after they had spent 43 years together.

"Mainly, I think it's my constitutional right to fly my flag, whether it's a Navy flag, Marine flag, Army flag or United States flag," Brookshier said.

But the truth is, it's not. The constitution says nothing about your right to put objects on other people's property, no matter how loving or sincere or patriotic your intentions might be.

Brookshier said she has no plans to take down her American flag. We tried to get in touch with her landlord at Bethany Meadows but were unable to reach anyone for comment.

We did check with a Portland law firm, Vial Fotheringham, which specializes in helping people work out problems with their landlord or homeowners association to find out exactly what folks can and cannot do.

According to Attorney Richard Vial, a partner at the firm, if you are a renter, the landlord gets to set the rules about what you can display on the property. And as a renter, you have to follow those rules.

However, if you own a home or condo, Congress gave you one special right that no homeowners association can take away. In 2006, Congress passed a law (the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act) stating that an owner can always fly an American flag, but only an American flag.


This story came to us as a news tip. If you have a story for us, email us at newstips@katu.com.