Holiday Decorations Do's and Don’ts
Just like everything else, Texans like their holiday decorations to be bigger and brighter every season. However, extravagant decorations can become an area of concern for your HOA board. How can you establish and enforce decorating policies without seeming like a grinch to your residents?
Here are four holiday décor pointers for allowing residents to creatively express their festive joy without turning your community into Who-ville.
1. Be consistent.
It should go without saying that, as a board member, you should assiduously study your governing documents, including all decoration rules. Apply these rules consistently to every resident, every holiday.
For example, if your HOA does not allow holiday decorations at all, do not make exceptions for specific times of year. If decorations are permitted, allow residents to unleash their festive spirit on their property, given they adhere to HOA guidelines and avoid safety risks.
Always remind residents of the rules prior to each holiday. Communicate your HOA decorating policy so your residents have multiple opportunities to see it – via your community website, newsletter, email, and/or direct mail. Also share the décor guidelines with new residents upon move-in. An experienced community association management company can help you effectively communicate these policies to current and new residents.
2. Don’t go overboard with the rules.
Residents normally understand decoration restrictions, like limiting display periods, amount of décor, etc. Set start and end dates for ornamentation. Restrict the time of day for any type of illumination so neighbors are not disturbed when trying to sleep. Encourage residents to always practice common courtesy and consideration of others.
Refrain from restricting any type of religious display, no matter what time of year. Not only can this become a heated issue, but your HOA could face legal action if residents believe you’ve limited their religious expression.
3. Allow for aesthetic differences.
Make sure you’re not imposing your personal preferences on others. Remember, everyone’s taste is different. A holiday ornament that has sentimental value to one resident may seem tacky to another. Several lighted pieces may feel traditional to you but seem gaudy to your neighbor.
Taste is very subjective – don’t get caught up in disputes about a resident’s aesthetic preferences. If many residents complain about a certain neighbor’s décor, arrange a huddle among all HOA members about possibly amending your governing documents.
4. Address common areas separately.
The rules for individual homes differ from those for common areas. Clearly communicate that residents may not decorate common areas without explicit permission from the HOA board. Placing decorations in common areas opens the HOA to liability risks.
If your HOA does place decorations common areas like your lobby or clubhouse, opt for nonreligious ones. For example: a winter wonderland theme in December, a spring flower theme in March, etc. If your community prefers more religious displays, make sure you represent the full range of faiths.
Focusing your holiday decor policies on noncontroversial aspects like safety, times, places, and quantity will provide clear guidelines to your community, leaving you with much fewer headaches in the long run. To learn more about how to establish holiday decorating and other important HOA policies, contact FirstService Residential, the leading community association management company in Texas.