4 ways to set a holiday decoration policy in your communityThe animated decorations of Christmas, Fourth of July, and Halloween are just a few examples that prove people love to decorate for every occasion. Many people derive a sense of community and comfort from seeing holiday decorations. Yet, if you live in a residential community or HOA, you may notice some restrictions regarding resident adornments.

Do HOAS let you decorate for the holidays?

When living in a community, you must take into consideration the association’s rules and standards regarding holiday decorations. Every association is different, but for the most part, almost every HOA has some exterior decoration policy. These rules are often in place to enforce uniformity and maintain the area clean and aesthetically in line with the community’s values. And as a board member, you will be the one who enforces them. If your community has chosen to establish standards like these, relying on a property management team can help to implement the rules fairly and evenly.

Below are four valuable tips for creating and enforcing your community's holiday decoration policies.
  1. Be fair

    It is essential to know your governing documents backward and forwards for policies to be enforced fairly. If there’s an outright ban on holiday decor, then make sure you implement this across all decorations or displays throughout the year; don't make exceptions. On the other hand, if your governing documents do not prohibit them explicitly, and you don’t see a reason to do so, then allow reasonable decor that doesn’t pose a safety risk.

    It’ll help if you communicate these rules to the community prior to each holiday season. This can be accomplished through the association’s newsletter, website, or even instant messaging via a resident portal. This will provide a much-needed refresher to current residents and a friendly notice to new homeowners. A good property management company will help draft an effective letter or posting that adheres to the community’s bylaws while providing clarity to current and new residents.
  2. Be reasonable

    Most residents are receptive to holiday décor restrictions such as the time of year it’s allowed and how much can be displayed. Consider surveying residents to learn what matters most to them. If appropriate, set a reasonable start date and end date for holiday decoration displays for the entire year. The same goes for time-of-day rules – nobody wants holiday lights flickering in their window at three in the morning, so all neighbors need to be aware and considerate of others as well. The one area you want to steer clear of is restricting religious displays at any time of year. This is a hot-button topic that’s sure to encourage nothing but friction.
  3. Remember that tastes are different

    We all have different likes and dislikes. A precious heirloom decoration that holds great meaning for you may be an eyesore for someone else. Therefore, nobody can define what’s "tasteful" for everyone. Save yourself time by refraining from arguing about aesthetics. If you find that particular styles of decor are generating feedback among Association members - start a dialog with them to update the governing documents to better reflect current attitudes towards style choices made within your community.
  4. Dictate common area décor

    When it comes time for your community association to decorate the common areas, remember to keep the decor free from religious undertones or imagery. For example, using lights and wreaths is a safe way to go in winter. If your community association is passionate about keeping religion in the holidays, be sure that all faiths are represented equally. And it goes without saying that residents should not place holiday decorations in any area maintained by the association as it opens up danger and liability to both parties. Make sure your residents know these areas are off-limits.
To make for a happier and stress-free holiday season in your community, focus on simple rules of location, time, place, size, and safety. It will avoid confrontation with the residents and reduce the need for stringent rule enforcement.

If you are interested in learning how FirstService Residential can support your communities year-round, contact us here.
Wednesday November 30, 2022