Shared from the 11/24/2018 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition


A complete guide to keeping peace and holiday harmony with your HOA





Your lights are going up, packages are arriving, and the family is coming to visit. The holiday season is here, and you want to celebrate. Does that celebration include a gigantic inflatable Santa or a sound and light show worthy of going viral on YouTube?

If you live in a community with a condominium association or a homeowners association, you may want to think twice before decking the outside of your hall with boughs of holly. Bah, humbug, you say?

For many homeowners, November means it is time to start putting up the holiday decorations both inside and outside their homes. But before you scurry up that ladder to hang decorative lights along the roof, take a peek at your covenants, conditions and restrictions. Here are a few things to think about this holiday season in condo or HOA communities.

Holiday displays and lighting

Does the association allow lights on balconies, windows, fences or the roof, and are there restrictions on how they should be attached to prevent damage? Are there restrictions on the color or the length of the string lights? Are light shows permitted that incorporate music or sound?

Are you interested in putting up that gigantic inflatable Santa for all to see? Does the association have restrictions regarding the size of displays, or limitations to where displays can be placed?

What dates are holiday displays allowed? Holiday lights and decorations are beautiful in December but not so much in spring.

During what hours can your display be illuminated? Bright lights or displays at night can generate complaints from your neighbors.

Be sure to check with your association regarding holiday displays and lighting. This will ensure that your outdoor winter wonderland isn’t a violation that causes you to receive a letter from the board.

Holiday packages and security

Thieves look forward to the holidays just as much as kids do. Unattended packages on your doorstep can be attractive to burglars. Some associations struggle with crime during the holidays.

Get to know your neighbors, especially during the holidays. Homeowners who know their neighbors are more likely to report suspicious behavior. A strong community can reduce crime.

Does your association have limitations to delivery options? Delivery drivers will often honor requests regarding package placement, such as behind a fence, outdoor furniture or another location.

Does your association have restrictions to security cameras or the use of video doorbells? Check for privacy restrictions in your community.

Take allowable precautions so the Grinch doesn’t steal your Christmas.

Parking and traffic

Holidays bring many people together, and that means extra cars will need to be parked. In shared communities, those who can’t park their sleigh on the roof may be inclined to slip into an owner or guest spot. Unless your association has a system of parking passes or guest tags, parking enforcement can be challenging.

Does your community have requirements of parking your car in a garage or in an assigned space? Where can your guests park? Are there time limits to how long you or your guest can park in a particular space or area before being cited or towed? Be sure to familiarize yourself with parking options or restrictions in your community or a surrounding neighborhood.

Some associations have adopted temporary “holiday parking rules.” Does your community make exceptions during the holidays between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, or on special holidays?

Holiday parties

The holidays are the time to eat, drink and be merry. Do you celebrate by hosting large parties? Your association may have regulations on noise levels, quiet hours or guidelines for hosting parties.

If you plan on hosting a large get-together or an epic party “that everyone will remember,” you may need to keep the noise to a minimum and wind the party down at a reasonable time. You don’t want your party to interfere with your neighbor’s desire to get visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

Family and visitors

The holidays bring families together. How long do you plan to celebrate with your family? Are there limitations to the ages of those staying with you, or the length of time they spend with you? Many senior communities may have limitations on the time those under the age of 18 can stay at your home.

Will your visitors be bringing their four-legged family members while staying with you? Are there any regulations on pets allowed in your community, such as size, breed or number allowed?

Don’t be a Scrooge and let your holiday spirit diminish just because you live in a community with rules and regulations. Be sure to read your community’s governing documents, or check with the board or management company to check for specific restrictions or limitations.

More importantly, respect others.

Not everyone recognizes or celebrates the same as you do during the holidays. Some may get irritated with bright lights, loud sound effects or overbearing displays. Bright lights and noisy displays can wear out their welcome quickly, and religious decorations can offend others.

Form positive relationships with your neighbors to ensure any conflicts can be avoided. Maybe they will invite you to their epic “party of the year.”

May your holidays be cheery and bright!

Jennifer Ireland and Julie Ulrich, both with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty, are vice-chairs of the Hampton Roads Realtors Association’s Common Interest Community Forum. Have a question about a condo or common interest community topic? Email For more on HRRA, go to, or call 757-473-9700. This column is not legal advice nor a legal recommendation.

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