Proper American Flag Etiquette for Your Apartment Balcony

The apartment balcony has become a battleground for flying the American flag in recent years. Across the country, disputes have arisen between landlords and tenants over whether the Star-Spangled Banner can wave from an apartment balcony.

Unfortunately, federal laws don’t precisely spell out in black and white what the rules are about flying the Red, White, and Blue from an apartment balcony. Nonetheless, we can give you some guidelines about the proper etiquette for showing your patriotism by flying the American flag from your apartment balcony.

Before you hang an American flag from your balcony, read your lease or ask the apartment manager.

According to the American Apartment Owners Association, the federal Freedom to Display the American Flag Act doesn’t cover renters. So, some states have passed their own laws giving renters the right to display the American flag, the association says. However, those laws do come with restrictions, such as limiting the size and location of the American flag.

The Daily Flag, an online marketplace for flags, says apartment managers have “an understandable and reasonable right” to set flag-flying guidelines, such as whether you can hang the American flag from a balcony. In many instances, landlords have banned flags, signs, and decorations from apartment balconies.

If you violate your apartment lease by flying the American flag from your balcony, you could face eviction.

Here are answers to some of the questions you might have about flying the American flag on your apartment balcony. This guidance is based on proper American flag etiquette from the U.S. Flag Code.

What time of day can I display the flag?

Customarily, the flag should be displayed only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag can be displayed 24 hours a day if it’s properly illuminated at night.

How does the weather affect when I display the flag?

The flag shouldn’t be displayed during inclement weather, except when an all-weather flag is used.

Are there certain days when the flag should be displayed?

The flag is supposed to be displayed every day, but especially on:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
  • Lincoln’s Birthday
  • Washington’s Birthday
  • National Vietnam War Veterans Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Mother’s Day
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Flag Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Independence Day
  • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
  • Labor Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Navy Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day.

How should other flags be displayed next to the American flag?

In almost all cases, no other flag or pennant should be put above the American flag or, if they’re the same level, to the right of the American flag.

Can I hang the American flag from a flagpole attached to the balcony?

Chances are, your landlord would prohibit attaching a flagpole to your apartment balcony. However, if you are allowed to do this, the field of stars always should be at the highest point of the pole.

What are the directions for hanging the American flag vertically from my balcony?

In this case, the stars should appear to the left of anybody viewing it from the ground.

Can I fly the American flag upside down?

It should be flown upside down only as a distress signal.

Can I draw on the American flag?

No. The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letters, words, numbers, figures or drawings put on it.

What should I do when the American flag is tattered or dirty?

When necessary, the flag should be cleaned and mended.

What should I do with the American flag when it can’t be repaired?

When the flag can “no longer be a fitting emblem for display,” according to the U.S. Flag Code, it should be destroyed in a “dignified way,” preferably by burning it. This applies to when the flag is “worn, faded, torn or soiled” beyond repair, according to flag seller

A retired flag should never be thrown in the trash.

How should I store the American flag when it’s not hanging from my apartment balcony?

The flag should be stored flat, not folded, according to SpareFoot, an online marketplace for self-storage.