The holidays can be a fun time of year for communities around the world. But if you’re a member of the HOA board, they might also bring a slight degree of stress. That’s because regulating holiday decorations can sometimes be one of the most stressful parts of serving as part of the HOA. It might seem silly, but residents love their decorations. They often have passionate feelings about what is and is not appropriate, and it can often be left for you to determine what’s allowed and what’s off-limits.
Let’s take a look at some of the common issues that HOA boards must face when it comes to regulating holiday décor.
Everyone has had that one neighbor who keeps their Christmas decorations up well into March or puts up Halloween decorations in mid-August. HOA regulations are designed to keep incidents like this to a minimum, so the whole community can be happy. It would be wise to make the acceptable dates for decorations clear for residents so there’s no confusion or frustration. That will also allow you to enforce the rules effectively if someone strays from the schedule.
Some displays might add noise to the lights and decoration. This might include holiday carols or spooky sound effects. While these can be fun, too loud or disruptive and they can stray into the area of becoming a nuisance. Setting noise restrictions or quiet periods is a good way to combat this.
Inappropriate, Violent or Offensive Decorations
Everyone in a community should be able to feel comfortable as they walk around the neighborhood. That’s one of the main rights that HOAs are designed to protect. That’s why it’s important to enforce a ban on inappropriate, violent or offensive decorations. That way you can keep everyone feeling secure in their community without tension or offense.
If regular inspections are part of your HOA plan, make sure your residents know when these inspections will occur, and how often. Many tension points that occur between residents and HOA boards come as the result of poor communication. Don’t let your residents be surprised or caught off guard.
Self-Reporting from Neighbors
One of your most effective tools in combatting décor infractions is your pool of residents. Encourage them to report issues to you directly to ensure that you can mediate any disputes effectively and efficiently.
How to Avoid Issues and Conflicts with Holiday Décor
The holidays should be a fun, laid-back time in your community. Don’t let frustration or conflict between your residents over decorations cause that vibe to be lost. Here are a few tips you can use to ensure that issues are avoided, and addressed quickly and peacefully when they do occur. You can implement these tips throughout the year to help keep everyone in your community happy, no matter what holiday they happen to be celebrating at a given time.
Make Rules Clear to Residents
A lot of frustration can be avoided if you take the time and make the effort to explain the community’s rules for holiday decorations. You might feel like a stickler making the rules too detailed, but this will help avoid any grey areas for residences. Ambiguous rules might seem more laid-back, but they can actually lead to more disputes and unhappy residents who are either displeased with a neighbor’s decorations or upset that their décor has been ordered to be taken down.
Encourage Residents to Talk to Each Other
Want to avoid conflict? Encourage your residents to discuss décor plans with each other. They can seek advice and unofficial approval from nearby neighbors. This will not only help avoid disputes but will also help foster a long-term feeling of friendship and community in your neighborhood. When neighbors talk to each other as friends, great things can happen.
Encourage Residents to Ask the HOA When in Doubt
When in doubt, just ask. That should be the philosophy you encourage your residents to take. If they feel comfortable approaching your board about potential decorations before they’ve spent hours on the roof putting them up, tension is much more likely to remain low. This process should be part of your year-round strategy. By building a relationship of open communication and trust, your residents will feel comfortable coming to you with their questions and thoughts.
Use Your Judgement
Above everything else, it’s important to use wise judgment when determining your holiday decoration rules. Remember that not all communities are the same. A community with lots of young children might require more stringent rules about acceptable décor to keep them from being frightened. That’s what HOA boards are for—to be the voices of reason in helping a community remain positive and pleasant with each other.
The holidays don’t have to be a stressful time for your homeowner’s association. If you plan ahead, set clear expectations for residents, and encourage open communication between residents and between your residents and you, you can’t’ go wrong.