Holiday Decor: Setting up Easy and Fair Guidelines
With the holidays around the corner, your HOA will soon be ready to start decorating their homes. As an HOA board member, you will play a vital role in helping guide your community through their holiday decor questions and concerns. This will also include communicating your communities bylaws and guidelines during the holiday months.
Why should you have clear guidelines for holiday décor?
One of the main reasons having clear guidelines is so important is that it sets clear expectations and transparency. A large part of the board's responsibility is to convey your community guidelines — one of which is your communities holiday decor guidelines.
- Communication team - A communications team works as the middleman between your HOA board and the community. A group such as this can be appointed through a board member or committee of volunteers. Some responsibilities may include: sending flyers, updating the community, establishing deadlines, creating an events calendar, and conveying safety protocols.
- Homeowner Q&A - An open community Q&A can be one of the best tools to help keep residents engaged. During the holidays, a board should be prepared to respond professionally to their community with any questions or concerns. Other Q&A sessions may include zoom calls, social media, or an open virtual chat via text or online.
5 Holiday Guidelines your HOA Should Enforce
Parking is one of the most significant issues HOAs often face during the holidays. Why so? Simply because of space — there’s only so much space an HOA can provide their residents. As a board, it will be essential to communicate your communities parking guidelines. This may include a map and outline of where visitors can and cannot park and any vehicle criteria, such as size. Establishing parking rules will also allow other residents the opportunity to have a fair chance to view their community's holiday decor without any issues.
- Can your HOA regulate guest or visitor parking?
- In most cases, the HOAs community governing documents will provide the authority to control any type of unassigned parking spaces — this may include parking related to short-term or temporary parking. Remember that the board can prevent parking in areas such as lawns, emergency zones, and certain sidewalks that may prevent a vehicle's access to an emergency or block a view.
- How does the board regulate parking rules?
- The biggest mistake HOAs can make is waiting until the last minute to enforce rules that were never enforced in the first place. To keep parking regulated, a board must communicate and share any upcoming changes to parking as soon as they happen. This allows everyone a fair chance to know the rules so that there are no issues down the road. Some examples include towing, parking fines, and visitor parking locations.
Decorations are one of the most important aspects of your holiday decor guidelines. One of the biggest misunderstandings HOA members often ask is whether they can have decorations. Depending on the HOA, some communities may allow decorations based on specific criteria.
- Size: The purpose of size guidelines is to give all residents a fair chance to display their decor respectfully so that they’re enjoyable for all members (and non-members) to see. If there were no rules regarding size, you would end up with a 30-foot Santa and towering snowmen in everyone's yard! Your bylaws should establish size requirements that are appropriate for all households. For decor that requires mounting, it is suggested that the board needs members to go through your Architectural Review Committee.
- The number of lights/colors: An HOA will often have to maintain a certain uniformity regarding their use of holiday lights and colors. Unfortunately, this can sometimes restrict some decorations from a home that do not meet the HOAs aesthetic. For example, the overuse of too many lights can be troublesome to neighbors, especially when the lights shine on other homes. A board should be clear in its message regarding these rules so that all members are on the same page.
- Noise: Decor noise is another vital rule HOAs often deal with during the holidays. Who wouldn’t love hearing “Jingle Bells” outside their home while trying to get ready for bed?! Or the sound of Santa saying “Merry Christmas” a 1000 times! When establishing rules, a board should consider all forms of noise to accommodate all households.
- Establish times that holiday songs/noise can be played outside the home.
- Establish volume levels for certain types of decor, such as a singing Santa or carol singers.
- Establish noise levels for those wanting to throw a holiday party during the weekday.
One of the biggest questions HOA members often ask is, “how long can you leave decorations up? As a board member, it will be important to establish a time frame on when residents can start to decorate, along with how long they may display decorations. Depending on the HOA, most communities will often allow up to one month before Christmas to start decorating and anywhere from 2-3 weeks after Christmas to remove decorations.
- Lights: A board should establish times when lights may and may not be on. This will allow residents to have a full night's rest without distraction from bright lights that could shine through their windows.
- Examples include: Holiday lights should be turned off between the hours of 11 p.m. - 6 a.m. Extended hours may be allowed during weekends and Christmas day.
4. Safety protocols
Safety is another crucial part of your HOAs decor guidelines that should consistently be enforced. In most cases, your community's bylaws will often aim to prohibit any source of danger or hazardous materials that could harm others and their homes. Some examples may include the following:
- Decorations may not contain harmful materials, such as the use of fire or gas.
- Lights may not be plugged into other outlets other than those provided by your home.
- The use of fireworks and sparklers is prohibited.
Depending on the location of your HOA, some communities will establish rules regarding placement for certain size homes.
- Single-family houses - An HOA may prohibit decorations on the home's exterior. Decorations are only allowed within the boundaries of the yard.
Condominiums - Most condominium bylaws contain a restriction that prohibits an owner from making a modification to the exterior of a unit without permission from the association.” Decorations may be limited or prohibited in common areas, hallways, or on doors.