Does your homeowners associations have a policy regarding holiday decorations?
Americans love to show their holiday spirit from flying flags on Independence Day, to spooky set-ups for Halloween and twinkling trees for the winter holidays. We put a great deal of time, effort and love into our displays. But when you live in a community with a homeowners association, your delightful decorations may be a nuisance to your neighbor.
Bright and noisy displays can quickly wear out their welcome and religious decorations could offend others. But you can still keep your holiday spirit while maintaining your community’s standards.
If You’re a Homeowner in an HOA
- Check to see if your HOA has a policy for holiday decorations. It may be in the Covenants and Restrictions, ARC Guidelines or Rules & Regulations.
- If you’re new to the association, you can also check with your neighbors to find out what’s allowed.
- Review your state’s laws as well. Sometimes state laws may override HOA rules.
- Can’t survive the holidays without stringing up some lights? Make a request to attend a board meeting and state your case. Bring a short proposal to modify HOA rules on decorations.
- Consider your neighbors and how your decorations may affect them.
If You’re a Board Member in Your HOA
- Be reasonable with your rules. The holidays are a time of joy – don’t squash it with heavy-handed rules. Regulations around noise-emitting or religious decorations may be all that’s needed. Or, consider including timelines on how long decorations can be displayed.
- Remember that decorations which appear to favor one religion over another could face discrimination claims under the Fair Housing Act and other housing laws. If your HOA does want to decorate for the holidays be sure to display only general decorations in the common areas.
- Consider homeowner safety. Decorations that must be anchored to the ground could pose a tripping hazard.
Though it’s important for your association to retain its aesthetic integrity, always choose your battles wisely and in the spirit of the season. In many cases, you’ll find you’re better off smiling and enjoying the display in the spirit in which it was intended.