Can Your Association Pull The Plug On Your Holiday Decorations?

Can Your Association Pull The Plug On Your Holiday Decorations?


You may love your 15-foot inflatable Santa, life-size crèche, Hanukkah menorah or Ramadan fawanees but that doesn’t mean you have a constitutional right to put them in your front yard when you live in a condominium, co-op or any other home ruled by a community association.

The rules your homeowners association makes about exterior décor apply during the holidays, too.

To see what your association allows, check the rules and bylaws you got when you purchased your home, or ask neighbors what was allowed last year.

If your community’s rules forbid holiday decorations or signs, but you want to decorate, you can check to see if state law (which overrides condo rules) allows you to display religious décor outside your home.

Suggest These Compromises

You can also ask your community board to allow holiday decorations with set limits, for example:

* Saying that lights have to be turned off by a certain time.
* Setting a deadline for removing decorations after the holiday.
* Forbidding decorations on community property (such as balconies).
* Allowing only UL-rated exterior light sets (common in areas where wildfire is a risk).
What happens if you break the no-decorations rules? You could be fined, but most associations will start by sending you a letter asking you to take down the decorations.

What about holiday displays in the common areas? Can your condo put a manger in the lobby?
Putting up a symbol or decoration from a single faith could expose your association to a Fair Housing Act complaint because it implies the community prefers residents of that faith.

If your homeowners association wants to use religious decorations, it should use symbols from many religions or to invite all homeowners to share decorations that highlight their heritage or faith.

Powered by HomeActions for Laura S. Rossinow, Broker, Keller Williams Realty, Newton, MA