New Law Limits Common Restrictions – Other States May Do The Same


On July 2, 2021, Colorado Governor Polis signed House Bill 21-1310 into Law, which broadens protections provided to homeowners who want to display flags or signs on their property. Previously, Colorado law had narrowly allowed homeowners to display American flags, Service Flags and Political signs. As is the case in all states, Associations are required to allow American Flags displayed in a manner consistent with the federal flag code and to permit certain Service Flags for the armed forces. That old law also allowed Colorado Associations to restrict political signs to only allow them 45 days before an election and seven days after an election.

american flags on homes along sidewalk

Flags & Signs

The new law, which goes into effect at the end of the year, eliminates the narrow language regarding flags and signs and replaces it with the following: “Flags: The Association shall not prohibit or regulate the display of flags on the basis of their subject matter, message or content; except that Associations may prohibit flags bearing commercial messages.” It goes on to further clarify the regulation of flagpoles by stating: “The Association may adopt reasonable, content-neutral rules to regulate the number, location and size of flags and flagpoles, but shall not prohibit the installation of a flag or flagpole.”

When it comes to signs, the new law also sets a precedent by reversing the previous wide-breadth of limitations Associations could enact. The new law narrowly limits the regulation of signs by stating: “The Association shall not prohibit or regulate the display of window signs or yard signs on the basis of their subject matter, message or content; except that the Association may prohibit signs bearing commercial messages. The Association may establish reasonable, content neutral sign regulations based on number, placement or size of the signs or on other objective factors.” The term “other objective factors” most likely refers to bans on signs and flags that may be deemed offensive, such as ones that contain profanity or nudity, but it does not specifically outline this as such.

Associations Face Fines & Forfeiture

Associations in Colorado must now enact “reasonable, content-neutral rules” to regulate the number, size, and locations of flags, flagpoles, and signs before the end of the year. Most notably, the new law allows the State to fine non-compliant Associations who don’t adopt rules and policies within the timeline. It also allows for Associations who fail to enact new policies to completely forfeit their right to limit any type of flag or sign. This places a large burden on Associations, who must meet with their legal counsel, to decide the best way to quickly, and legally, enact new bylaws and policies that meet these sweeping changes.

The Precedent Is Set

While Colorado is the first to pass such a law, it certainly won’t be the last. Many states have been closely watching how the legislation in Colorado would play out, with plans to adopt similar legislation once a precedent was established. Proponents of the new law claim it solves a long-standing contention between homeowners and Associations by clearly outlining that flags and signs are an extension of a homeowners freedom of speech. Opponents claim that the new restrictions place an undue burden upon Associations by requiring swift enactment without taking into account the costs associated with doing so. They also believe that more disagreements and division will be the result of allowing “free reign” of political and social alignments to be on public display.
Read The New Colorado Law In Its Entirety – Click Here


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