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Couple battles apartment over American flag

Posted: 11:56 PM, Oct 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-14 23:59:09-04

Ryan Wheatley has an ax to grind. For six months he's been living with his girlfriend at Fairway Vista Apartments in West Palm Beach where they've proudly displayed old glory on their balcony.

“My dad was in the Army. My grandfather fought for this country. I've lost a lot of really close friend for that flag right there.”

His passion for the stars and stripes took him to the front office after the management company nearly brought him to tears. The flag is in violation of the rental agreement which clearly states all balconies must be uniform therefore it must come down.

“They said the consequences are if we don't take it down within so many days that they're going to fine us first and after they fine us if we don't take it down after that, they're going to give us a six day eviction notice,” says Wheatley.

The story seemed like a closed case until we opened the door to the office of Mark Schneider, president of the Palm Beach County Chapter of the ACLU.

“A Florida statute says even renters should be able to display a flag that's less than 4.5 by 6 feet on their rental units,” says Schneider.

Schneider dug into a state law which in this case may override that rental agreement. Furthermore he says he's not aware that balconies could restrict it either.

“Me and her are both going to fight this,” says Wheatley.

His pride is on the line and he intends to stand with his conscience in hopes of raising a larger discussion. 

“This is unjust and it’s happening all over the United States where you can't fly a flag because you're offending someone,” he added.

The management company for Fairway Vista Apartments reiterated that all balconies have to be uniform before hanging up on us. Our emails to them have not been returned either.

For more on the state law that could override the rental agreement in this case, click here and read section 4.