ATTORNEY

Balcony Banner Wars: DC Apartment Residents Face Fines for Hanging Political, Sports Signs

One banner read “Nope.” with an arrow pointing up to another resident's pro-Trump sign

A Southwest D.C. apartment building appears to be putting an end to a political banner war between some of its residents. 

“I was looking forward to the passive aggressive flag war of 2017,” Warner Turner said of his apartment building previously covered in balcony banners. “But I guess that’s not going to happen, which is kind of disappointing.”

Residents at Camden South Capitol apartments near Nationals Park have previously hung banners in support of D.C.'s baseball team.

However, when banners with political statements started to appear, the building management stepped in and asked residents to remove all banners.

Banners included “Resist,” a banner reading “Nope.” with an arrow pointing up to a “Trump” supporting banner, “Black Lives Matter,” the rainbow flag and a handful of other sports team banners.

Turner thinks the tipping point was the “Nope.” sign that pointed up to the Trump supporting sign.

“That’s what started all of this. That’s what triggered the emails,” Turner said. “It was fine, until it became something -- a bit of a lightning rod.”

Building manager Shaun Lambert emailed residents Monday, saying hanging anything off the balcony -- including National’s banners -- is a lease violation. “We have these rules to ensure our community exteriors remain clean and hazard free,” Lambert wrote in the email.

But some residents said management never said anything about the signs before.

“I’ve been here 18 months, there’s always been flags out here,” one resident said.

Lambert said the policy has always been in the lease since the building opened in 2015 and his email was to remind people of the existing rule.

Attorney Joel Cohn with the D.C. Office of Tenant Advocates said landlords have the right to set rules for renters, but interesting legal challenges could be raised by tenants wanting to hang banners.

“The tenant would have an argument before a judge that there was basically silent permission to do just that and the judge would have to decide what’s reasonable here,” Cohn said.

The “Nope.” banner is gone, but several others are still hanging.

Residents have until May 1 to take the banners down or risk fines and eviction.

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