Now that the holiday season is upon us, let’s talk about something that people either love or hate. No, we’re not talking about eggnog. People tend to have strong feelings about holiday decorations. When you live in an HOA or COA community, those feelings might translate into written rules. A Homeowners’ Association or Condominium Owners Association may dictate how much or what kind of holiday cheer you can express. Take time to understand their authority and your rights.
What Can HOAs and COAs Limit?
The purpose of HOAs and COAs is to keep up neighborhood standards regulate activities around the neighborhood. The organizations are designed to be a positive force in your neighborhood. They do hold some legal power over what you can do with your home and property.
For example, as a way to regulate traffic in your neighborhood or condo complex, your association may limit when decorations can go up and when they have to be taken down, what kinds of decorations you can use, and the hours during which the decorations can be inflated or lit. Because each HOA and COA is different, you will need to review the by-laws of yours.
COAs tend to implement stricter regulations on holiday decorations. If too many units sharing the same power grid sap too much power, they could blow a fuse. That could lead to dire consequences to everyone living in the complex. After all, Cincinnati winters can brutal. You don’t want to be without heat in the middle of a snowstorm because the power system was overwhelmed.
How Can You Work Around Limits
Because HOAs are made up of regular, everyday people, they may be more forgiving during the holiday season if your lights and decorations aren’t too over-the-top.
Talk With Your Neighbors
The people most affected by an elaborate light and decoration display are going to your neighbors. Some neighbors may love the idea while others may take a more “bah humbug” approach. Letting them know ahead of time you plan on decorating your lawn and house for the holidays can go a long way.
Communicate With the Association
People love looking at holiday lights and decorations. People on association boards know this. Talk with the board before you start decorating and familiarize yourself with the guidelines. If you communicate early enough, you may be able to propose an amendment or an exception to the association’s rules and agreements. The National Retail Federation says spending for the holidays is going to increase for 2018 compared to 2017. Don’t let costly fees from fighting with your HOA or COA over holiday lights affect the number of gifts you’ll be giving to loved ones this year.
What Happens if You Go Against Limits?
HOA and COA agreements are signed documents and they can be held up in court. Going to court over HOA or COA disagreements is usually the last resort, but if it does happen, we can help. Usually you will receive a warning first. If the problem doesn’t get resolved, it will escalate. Again, because each HOA and COA is different, it’s hard to say what will cause an escalation in the battle over lights and decorations.
As the holiday season progresses, keep in mind any limits on decorations your HOA or COA have in place. There are few things that can put a damper on the holiday season, but having to take down your lights display because they violate your HOA or COA is one of them.
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