Does your homeowners association have a policy on holiday decorations? Should it?
Americans love to show their holiday spirit. From flying flags on Independence Day to spooky set-ups for Halloween to 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 homeowners association community, 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 on holiday decorations.
- If you’re new to the association, check with your neighbors to find out what’s really allowed.
- Review your state’s laws on HOA rules and policies. Sometimes state laws may override HOA rules.
- Can’t survive the holidays without stringing up some lights? Go to 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 member of your HOA…
- Be reasonable with your rules. The holidays are a time of joy—don’t quash 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 up.
- Remember that decorations that 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 put up only general decorations in common areas.
- Consider homeowner safety. Decorations that must be anchored to the ground could pose tripping hazards.
And whether you’re the homeowner or a member of the homeowners association board, be sure your holiday decoration requests or regulations consider the spirit of the season and each others’ goodwill. Holidays come and go, but we’re all neighbors 365 days a year!
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