Christmas lights have always been and always will be part of homeowners association holiday decorations. However, it’s still important to establish holiday lighting rules to maintain the aesthetics of your community. Here’s how to determine which rules are fair and which aren’t.
Why Do You Need Holiday Lighting Rules?
Decorating your home with Christmas lights is a time-honored holiday tradition. It’s also one of the best ways to showcase your holiday spirit. However, people who live in HOA communities cannot decorate freely. The extent to which they can decorate will depend on their association.
HOA holiday lighting rules exist for a reason. Apart from maintaining the aesthetics of the community, they also prevent potential hazards that may arise from the use of Christmas lights. However, the goal of these holiday lighting rules is not to deprive homeowners of their holiday traditions. It’s about finding a balance between allowing homeowners to express their holiday cheer and at the same time, protecting the interests of the community as a whole.
Fair and Reasonable HOA Lighting Rules for Your Community
An outright ban on holiday lights will not go well with your homeowners. Rather than looking like a Scrooge or the Grinch, the association can appease homeowners by implementing fair and reasonable rules for HOA Christmas lights, as well as for trees, wreaths, and other kinds of holiday decorations. Here are some HOA lighting rules to consider.
1. Create a Theme for HOA Holiday Decorations
If you want to maintain HOA aesthetics, consider creating a Christmas theme for your community. The board can create different Christmas themes — with specific color schemes, holiday lights, and decorations — and have the homeowners vote on which one they like the best. This is a great strategy if you want to prevent exuberant or over-the-top displays in your HOA.
Since it will be impossible to please everyone, obtaining the majority vote is fair and reasonable. Just make sure to select your chosen Christmas theme ahead of time so that homeowners have sufficient time to decorate.
2. Implement a Timeline for Holiday Lights
Rather than controlling the Christmas decorations that homeowners use, it will be much easier to regulate the timing of holiday lights and ornaments. Most associations only allow holiday decorations to come up 30 days before Christmas. They also require homeowners to take down their holiday decorations by the second week of the new year.
You can also implement a daily schedule for holiday lights and sounds. For example, holiday lights can only be turned on starting at 9 a.m. and they must be turned off at 9 p.m. This is so that neighbors can have a peaceful night’s sleep. Your HOA will be able to avoid complaints from homeowners about their neighbors’ Christmas lights.
For better compliance, you can recommend Christmas lights with timers so that homeowners do not accidentally leave their lights on — which can lead to higher utility bills, violation fines, and neighbor complaints. Timers are also convenient because you won’t have to manually turn off the lights each night.
3. Establish a Limit for Holiday Lights
HOAs can also put a limit on how many holiday lights homeowners can put up on their house.
Most associations will allow a length of about 100 to 200 feet. This holiday lighting rule is not just about maintaining aesthetics. Having too many Christmas lights can also create a fire hazard.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 44% of Christmas tree fires are due to electrical or lighting equipment. If a fire starts, it can easily spread and cause widespread property damage. Thus, holiday lighting rules are also very much about protecting your community.
Apart from holiday lights, you can also implement rules for other holiday decorations for the safety of the HOA. For example, you can place a ban on dry Christmas trees. Artificial or flame-resistant Christmas trees will be much safer for the community.
4. Determine Placement of Holiday Lights
Another fair and reasonable move for HOAs is to regulate the placement of holiday lights. For example, the HOA can allow Christmas lights to be placed on roof lines, front doors, front windows, and on the front yard. However, consider banning roof-anchored lights and decorations for safety reasons.
It will be hard for the HOA to determine whether roof-mounted displays were installed properly. If not, they can easily get blown by the wind or fall on unsuspecting victims. This holiday lighting rule will prevent accidents and injuries from happening in your HOA.
5. Require Applications for Holiday Decorations
To ensure HOA compliance with holiday lighting rules, put your architectural review committee to work this holiday season. They can process applications from homeowners who want to decorate their homes according to their tastes or traditions.
The committee can review these applications to determine whether they are acceptable or too over the top. They can also determine whether proposed holiday decorations create a safety or fire hazard for the community.
If there are issues with the applications, the committee can recommend modifications that homeowners can then implement. This gives community members more freedom to decorate their homes but still abide by the general architectural standards of the HOA.
How to Implement Holiday Lighting Rules in Your Community
When implementing rules and regulations, the HOA must make a concerted effort to explain why they are necessary in the first place. If homeowners understand the importance of holiday lighting rules, it will be easier to ensure their compliance. The holidays can be a stressful time for many so make sure to plan ahead of time. Give homeowners enough time to understand your holiday lighting rules and decorate their homes accordingly.
If you have more questions about holiday lighting rules in your HOA, do not hesitate to reach out to Clark Simson Miller today! Call us at 865.315.7505 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our HOA management solutions.