5 Ways to Ensure Holiday Decorations Follow HOA Rules

Christmas lights and other holiday decorations on a brick house

Property managers sometimes have to enforce HOA rules on holiday decorations or provide recommendations to residents

Key takeaways:

  • HOAs will often have regulations on holiday decorations
  • Property managers sometimes have to enforce these rules
  • This implementation can be a lot of work
  • Keeping some general ideas in mind helps with enforcement

The holidays are a special time of year, as people all over the country begin preparing early by purchasing presents, planning get-togethers, and getting in the festive spirit. Many people will also put up holiday decorations inside and outside their homes. 

Most homeowner’s associations have rules overseeing the use of exterior holiday decorations, although the exact regulations vary by community. Some property management firms end up in charge of enforcing these rules, so it’s vital to have a grasp on what they entail. 

Although the rules are different everywhere, there are some broad issues most of them will cover. For example, an HOA probably won’t want holiday lights illuminated 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, so they’ll implement limitations. 

Other HOAs might ban certain items, such as lawn decorations, from the community entirely, so property management groups will want to be aware of the decorations that no residents should be putting up and provide guidance along the way. Here’s a look at five ways you can ensure everyone in your community follows the holiday decoration restrictions your HOA has established.

1. Know the timelines

HOAs will often implement dates for when residents can begin putting decorations up outside their homes. The goal is to prevent people from decorating for the holidays too early. A general timeline might allow homeowners to begin putting their holiday decorations up a month before Christmas or on the first day of December. 

These rules also determine when residents must remove their holiday decorations after the holidays. An HOA might permit these individuals to leave the decorations up for two weeks after Christmas or until a date early in the new year. Learning the specific HOA rules you must enforce makes it easier to communicate these timelines to residents early in the process and limit potential issues in the future.

2. Think of the noise

Decorations that play music or make other sounds can add to the festive atmosphere in the community. However, some HOAs will ban noisy decorations or put limits on them. These restrictions could be part of the associations’ excessive noise rules or apply specifically to holiday decorations. 

Generally, if a decoration seems like it’s too loud, it’s probably something your staff should discuss with the homeowner. You could also receive complaints from neighbors if an outdoor ornament is making too much noise, which is another factor you’ll need to keep in mind.

At the very least, enforcing nighttime noise regulations within the community is a must because no one wants their sleep interrupted by a singing Santa Claus or endless holiday music.

3. Remember light restrictions

The HOA could have rules limiting the brightness and number of lights on any property in the community. These regulations might be somewhat vague but will often include language on the length of the lighting strands permitted and how many the homeowner can hang. 

Of course, enforcing these rules can be challenging because you don’t want your staff having to climb on people’s roofs to measure their lights. It’s advisable to refer to the specific HOA guidelines for the relevant regulations you’ll need to enforce. You can then begin looking for obvious violations.

There could also be restrictions on the color of lights residents can use in their holiday decorations. The idea is that many HOA communities prefer conformity, so anything that stands out could limit the aesthetic integrity of the neighborhood as a whole. For example, some HOAs will only allow white holiday lights or restrict them to the outside edge of the roof.

4. Encourage timers

HOAs will often place restrictions on the hours of the day residents can light their holiday decorations. For example, a community might ban the lighting of Christmas lights between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. because of the noise and light pollution they create. 

In theory, it sounds easy for homeowners to unplug their lights every morning by 9, but the reality is that it’s commonly forgotten or overlooked. This issue leads to problems following these regulations and stress for property managers. 

One potential solution involves encouraging community residents to invest in outdoor light timers. These timers will turn the lights on at night and turn them back off at the community’s designated lights out time. The result is fewer residents breaking the rules and less work for property management firms as they attempt to keep up with everything that goes on around the holidays. 

5. Safety first

Homeowner’s associations will often include safety rules that go beyond the aesthetics they’re trying to create around the holidays. One such example could involve prohibiting rooftop decorations that could blow off in a storm and damage other properties. 

Fire safety is another issue worth factoring into the situation, as some HOAs might regulate how close the lights are to a property’s hedges and trees. They might also insist that residents only use LED bulbs in holiday decorations. 

There could be more significant ordinances in neighborhoods in areas with elevated wildfire risks, as well. 

Help for property managers

Property management firms often handle multiple jobs within a community, including enforcing HOA rules, collecting fees, and hiring vendors. These duties can take a lot of time and when you factor holiday decoration compliance into the mix, the job can quickly become overwhelming. 

VendorSmart provides a platform for property managers and service providers like landscapers, security companies, electricians, and maintenance workers to quickly and safely connect. Our system vets these vendors for compliance, as well, limiting your risk when selecting a company to work in a community you’re managing. Contact VendorSmart to learn more or download our free vendor vetting guide today.