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'Tis The Season: Regulating Holiday Decorations at Your Association

It may be difficult to believe, but the Holiday Season is right around the corner.  With the holidays coming up, owners will be adorning their homes, lawns, balconies, and patios with holiday decorations.  For homeowners and condominium Associations holiday decorations can be a source of stress and conflict.  Most Associations want to accommodate their owners’ desire to decorate their property. But what happens when the decorations go too far? What happens when an owner decorates common elements? What happens when the decorations cause a nuisance or a danger? Situations where decorations cause an issue can leave some Boards feeling like the Grinch.

Boards do not need to say “bah humbug” to their owners when it comes to holiday decorations.  Boards are almost always entitled to adopt reasonable rules and regulations to govern the use of a home or condominium unit. A set of plainly written and reasonable rules can go a long way in preventing issues between owners and Boards.

Many homeowners Associations have restrictions right in their declaration regarding outdoor decorations.  Others have rules and regulations or an architectural review Boards (“ARB”) made up of owners that write and enforces the rules.

Associations with rules and regulations and/or ARBs that enforce rules regarding exterior appearance have much greater flexibility when regulating holiday decorations since rules and regulations can be added to or changed without an amendment.

 If your Association has rules or regulations, and/or an ARB, rules pertaining to holiday decorations should be added to the written rules governing exterior appearance.  This is especially important if your Association’s rules normally prohibit exterior decorations.

Any rules that your Association adopts concerning holiday decorations must be written and given to all owners or made equally available to all owners.

Also, if your governing documents require a vote of the ownership for changes to rules and regulations, ensure that this vote is obtained prior to enforcement.

One of the most important things to remember about rules for holiday decorations is that any rule must be completely neutral regarding any religious content in holiday displays.

For condominiums, the advice is largely the same.  Condominium Boards have a great deal of authority to regulate the common elements and the limited common elements. 

If your Association wants to regulate decorations on unit doors, patios, and/or balconies, those rules should be clearly written and religiously neutral.   

For both homeowner and condominium Associations, the rules must be enforced equally among all owners.

If your Association has any questions about regulating holiday decorations, please call our office.  Our office can also assist in drafting rules for your Association. 

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