From Florida to California, reports are coming in about HOAs and homeowners butting heads over holiday decorations. It’s common for associations to have rules governing the timing, type and scale of homeowner displays. For example, holiday decorations may be limited to 30 days before and after the holiday. The association may also choose to forbid things like blinking, audible or plastic decorations. Another common ruling is to limit the length of lighting strands – for example you may be allowed one ten foot strand of lights on your balcony.
Every year we hear the great debate about whether or not HOAs can and should implement such rules. Some homeowners feel like it’s their right to decorate their house how and when they want. To put this bluntly – it is not.
It’s the role of an HOA board is to enforce the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. CC&Rs are in place to protect, preserve and/or enhance property values within the community. A big part of this is the aesthetics of the property. The CC&Rs can dictate the color you are allowed paint your house, the size of the tree in your front yard and, you guessed it, the timing, type and scale of holiday decorations!
The CC&Rs are made available to every prospective home buyer and is one of the first and most important documents to understand when purchasing a home governed by an HOA. Often times, new homeowners gloss over that part about holiday decorations when house hunting, then find themselves complaining come November.
The fact of the matter is this: If you’re a homeowner living within a community governed by an HOA, you have two options. Passively abide or actively seek change. If you think your HOA is being unfair and over the top about holiday regulations, take it up with the board and fellow neighbors. Maybe you’re not the only one to feel this way. A good HOA board will listen and rule democratically. The moral of the story is try to seek change by working within the system you bought into, before talking to the local news.