HOA changed rules after Black Lives Matter flag clash, homeowner says

Erica Simon Image
Friday, March 26, 2021
HOA changed rules after BLM flag clash, homeowner says
Did an HOA change its rules on yard signs after a clash over a Black Lives Matter flag? A homeowner thinks it did, and Eyewitness News spoke with the woman who says there's a new wrinkle to her fight.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- If you've ever driven down Benwich Circle in the Hearthstone neighborhood in northwest Harris County, you're likely familiar with the Bernardino house.

Eyewitness News first reported about the home Sept. 2020. Gloria Bernardino and her husband believe in all human rights, which they've proudly displayed on their lawn for months.

Now, they're down to one small flag.

READ MORE: HOA gives homeowner 7 days to remove Black Lives Matter sign

About two months ago, Gloria Bernardino and her husband put up banners to make their message clear, but now they're at odds after a letter arrived giving them seven days to take their sign down.

"I feel like they made a whole new policy based on my yard," said Gloria.

She's referring to the Hearthstone Homeowner's Association. In early March, management sent out new flag and sign rules that state the association can enter a lot and remove any sign, banner or flag that isn't on the approved list or has offensive language.

"I believe the underlying issue is that they don't want to see any kind of message of anything that is human rights centered because it's easier for them to not have to look at it," Gloria said.

Below is a list of approved signage:

  • School or youth-affiliated sports signs
  • Garden flags and banners that display college or university logos, professional sports logos, family initials, flags that are religious in nature, or seasonal or holiday related.
  • Political signs that support a candidate or measure up for election
  • Security signs

Everything else is prohibited.

But does an HOA have the legal right to come and remove property?

Eyewitness News took that question to South Texas College of Law Houston professor Josh Blackman.

"If you check your deed, which is the document that gives you the ownership of your home, it will say that you give certain people the right to enter your front yard or your backyard for maintenance and other tasks," he explained. "There are probably restrictions in them entering the actual house, but your front yard, they probably have the right to. If they perform maintenance, if there's an issue with the sewage line, or water line or power line on your property, they can dig. So, the short answer is HOA's are quite powerful and can probably take the actions you described."

ABC13 reached out to the Hearthstone Homeowner's Association but has not received a response.

Gloria said she plans to stand her ground and keep up her single flag.

"They're going to have to come take it," she said.

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