AUSTIN (KXAN)—With all its colors on display, Avery Grant’s pride flag waves back and forth on a pole in front of his South Austin home.

This was something that brought him a lot of joy. But some of that joy, he said is now fear after getting a violation notice from the Park Ridge Home Owner Association on Friday.

“It was a direct attack on me as someone who’s in the LGBTQ+ community, so I felt afraid,” Grant said. “It was an immediate fear reaction.”

Grant said he’s been more aware of his surroundings in his neighborhood, including switching up the time of day he walks his dog. The notice made him feel less welcomed and accepted in his neighborhood.

Grant read part of the notice from the Park Ridge HOA to Reporter Jala Washington: “It is particularly important to ensure that the properties within our community are attractive and properly maintained because it enhances the character, appearance, and value of the community as a whole,” Grant read.

The notice in full, goes on to say only U.S., Texas or official military flags are allowed. The Park Ridge HOA said these rules are in accordance with covenant, condition and restrictions, and state law in the notice.

“Is that a legitimate claim that state law says you can only have certain flags?” Reporter Jala Washington asked an HOA lawyer Patrick Sutton.

“Not quite,” Sutton responded. “State law…it allows subdivisions and HOAs to ban certain things if they fulfill certain requirements.”

According to the attorney who represents Park Ridge HOA, management incorrectly worded the violation notice sent to Grant.

“The Association did send a letter, in error, indicating that only certain types of flags can be flown in the community,” Clint Brown, attorney for Park Ridge HOA said. “That mistake has already been addressed…So, at this point, the Association is requesting the owner…to submit an application for the flag they wish to fly.”

Grant is being asked to submit an architectural application, for the new pole he’s using for the flag. That is a requirement, per Park Ridge’s HOA rules.

Flag rule section from the Park Ridge HOA website. (photo: Park Ridge HOA).

An HOA can restrict what kinds of flags are allowed in a community, Sutton said. But, only after having an open meeting.

“So people get to have a chance to comment and talk about what rules the board is talking about, that’s by state law,” Sutton said.

According to Park Ridge HOA Rules, there are flag restrictions for things like how large they can be or if they are advertising something. However, there’s nothing stated in the amendment that limits which type of flag a neighbor can display.

Flag rule section from the Park Ridge HOA website. (photo: Park Ridge HOA).

Grant is happy he won’t have to take his flag down if he’s able to get the architectural application submitted. But, since he’s renting his home, he’ll have to go through a more extensive process. The homeowner will have to be the one to submit that application.

The entire situation has left him feeling uncomfortable in his neighborhood. And he’s not sure how this sort of miscommunication happened.

“It felt like a diverse, you know, neighborhood, and I felt like I would fit in,” Grant said.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, Sutton said you should read your violation notice carefully, and go through with a hearing process if an HOA offers it.

“Many people…are scared by these letters, or don’t read the whole thing and don’t trigger their hearing,” Sutton said. “And then later, they end up with the fine because they never timely asked for the hearing.”