It’s that time of year again, after the Turkey leftovers are gone (or maybe right before) the twinkle lights of the holidays light up the night sky. But for condo homeowners, potential arguments about decorations can make the season a bit less about the holiday cheer. Your HOA rules and bylaws often restrict decorations and signs, including those celebrating the holidays. So before you hang your wreath, here are four things for you to consider with holiday decorations in your HOA community:
Check your Documents
It’s extremely common for condos and co-ops to have rules that regulate decorations and lights, especially when those decorations are placed in common areas like hallways. Some of these rules are designed to keep the property neat and tidy, but some may address safety concerns, such as electrical items can cause fires. Every co-op / condo board has different policies concerning how strictly they enforce decoration rules around the holidays. Make sure you’re thoroughly versed in your own so that you can address them knowledgeably.
Talk to your neighbors.
If it’s your first holiday in your new home, check your association’s rules and regulations to find out what’s really allowed. Chat with the neighbors, too. Condos that ban lights and signage most of the year may be lenient about decorations during the holiday season. “But do understand these rules and regulations are enforceable by boards of corporations that are created contractually.
Banned? Take your holiday case to the board.
Call the president and ask if you can speak at the next meeting. Show up with a short written proposal to modify the HOA rules to allow specific kinds of decorations, like lights on balconies or door wreaths.
What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gaggle
According to Ryan Poliakoff co-author of New Neighbors: The Consumers Guide to Condominium, Co-op and HOA living, “It’s all well and good to argue for unrestricted expression of your holiday cheer, but condo rules are universal and have to work for everyone, regardless of their religion, philosophy or upbringing. Most condos are multiethnic and multicultural, and part of being a good neighbor is respecting that everyone has the right to celebrate their own holiday. So you can’t allow a lobby Christmas tree without also allowing for residents who might want to display a menorah or a symbol of Kwanzaa, for instance.”
Remember during the holidays everyone celebrates differently. Whatever one’s religion or culture, one thing is universal: The holidays are a special allotted time for all of us to think about each other.
Bottom line: Living in a shared association is about give and take. And you’re always free to decorate your home’s interior as you like.
Learn how to have a stress-free holiday season with IKO's guide to the holidays.