Apartment complex changes course on flag policy

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Residents in several Indianapolis apartments are able to put their American flags back on their balconies after an Eyewitness News report.

"It's America. It's a free country," said United States Marine Corps veteran Adam Shea.

That's why Shea has hung up his American flag again from his apartment balcony at The Masters Apartments.

Shea took it down last year after he got a letter from management. The letter asked Shea to remove his flag and said, in part, "Per your lease agreement, the resident shall not permit any signs, pictures or posters to be displayed which are visible outside the apartment building."

"I think that's what really upset me the most," said Shea. "The American flag is none of those things. I took it down in fear of repercussion of them wanting to evict.

But he said he wasn't happy about it.

An attorney for Sheehan Properties, which manages the complex, said this was an isolated mistake and there is no policy specific to the American flag.

"We are working with our attorneys and the Indiana Apartment Association for direction in proceeding. We will work promptly to resolve this concern for our residents," Sheehan Properties said in a statement to Eyewitness News.

The Freedom to Fly the American Flag Act of 2005 says that it's a person's right to fly the flag at home, but many rental properties interpret that law as not applying to renters.

"I pay for this just like I would pay for a home that I owned," said Debbi Button, who lives in the same complex as Shea. "Property management companies, are they saying they don't want good citizens that are patriotic to their country? I mean, I don't understand it."

The Masters Apartments isn't the only one with rules in its lease about what can be displayed on its balconies. The Indiana Apartment Association says there are others all across the state with the same kind of stipulations.

In a written statement, the association said, in part, "The stance of the Indiana Apartment Association is that if it is in the lease, it is up to the owner to enforce that lease as he or she sees fit."

Shea said he believes its time for apartment management companies to come up with a compromise.

"I'd hate to see that everything we've all worked so hard for that symbol be treated, as just a piece of fabric or some kind of decor," said Shea.