The holidays are here! You know what that means — it’s time to deck the home. There’s no doubt that holiday decorating is exciting, but if your rental property is in a community that’s controlled by a homeowners association (HOA), decorating by their book can be extremely challenging. There are so many things your tenants can and can’t do when it comes to decorating for the holidays.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your tenants abide by the HOA rules. In this post, we’ll touch on the general guidelines for holiday decorating, and how you can enforce the rules so you don’t get in trouble with the HOA.
General Guidelines for HOA-Friendly Holiday Decorating
Pass along these tips to your tenants so they can safely decorate for the holidays:
#1 Get Rid of Large Decorations
It’s common for HOAs to ban large holiday decor. This is because associations seek to maintain the look of the community. So, if your tenant is thinking of decking the lawn with inflatable snowmen, ask them to think of a subtler substitute. Similarly, some HOAs don’t allow homeowners to add decor to the roof, so don’t forget to refer to your HOA’s rules for the specifics.
#2 Understand Outdoor Decor Rules
If the association says that you can’t put holiday decorations outdoors, there’s nothing you can do. In certain HOA communities, outdoor decorations are restricted to a few string lights and a single wreath on the front door. Fortunately, there are hardly any rules on indoor decor, so your tenants can decorate the interior to their hearts’ content.
#3 Practice Fire Safety
Planning on hanging outdoor lights on trees and hedges? HOAs can create rules regarding outdoor lighting, particularly in areas that are prone to wildfires, such as South Florida. Hence, you should schedule regular garden maintenance that includes tree trimming to make sure that your trees, or any of your plants, aren’t a fire risk.
#4 Avoid Noisy and Bright Decor
HOAs want to protect the aesthetic integrity of the neighborhood, hence, they can restrict noisy decor, such as animatronics. Similarly, HOAs can create restrictions on when homeowners can play holiday sounds, such as from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. They can also control the length of the string lights to avoid glaring lighting.
#5 Be Mindful of Tree Position
Buying a real tree this Christmas? Be sure to get one that’s not flammable. Certain trees can catch on fire, especially if they’re positioned near candles, fireplaces, and heaters. The tree stand should also contain water at all times. You could also opt for an artificial tree since it’s safer and easier to set up.
How to Enforce Holiday Decorating Guidelines
So, your tenants are ready to spread some holiday cheer. But before they put up the Christmas tree, it’s critical to inform them if the HOA has enforced rules regarding holiday decorating. These rules should be strictly followed, otherwise you, as the property owner, will find yourself in hot water with the HOA.
To steer clear of misunderstandings, as a top-rated South Florida property management company, we’ve put together a few tips to follow:
#1 Start With Tenant Education
From the beginning, your tenants should be aware of what they can and can’t do. Prior to signing the lease agreement, they should be informed about all of the rules. This can be done by you or your property management company. Full disclosure is the way to ensure that there’s no confusion down the road. Hence, give your tenants a copy of the HOA’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs), or upload it to the tenant portal so they can access it at their convenience.
#2 Read the Rules
Your tenants expect you to be the expert on HOA-related matters. Therefore, you should take the time to check the HOA’s rules. Keep in mind that HOAs create these rules not only to keep the community clean but also to keep its inhabitants safe. For instance, certain holiday decorations such as Christmas lights can cause fires that spread to other houses. Read the rules, and make sure that you truly understand them so that you can answer your tenants’ concerns knowledgeably.
#3 Remind Tenants to Respect Others
Tell your tenants to decorate for the holidays without disrupting their neighbor’s day-to-day life. Certain decorations, such as lights that are too bright, can be annoying at night. If neighbors can’t sleep because of your tenant’s holiday decor (or worse, if their decor is offensive), prepare to receive plenty of complaints. As a rule of thumb, holiday decor should not only be attractive to the tenant, but also the neighbors.
#4 Schedule an Inspection
Despite your efforts, some tenants still won’t follow the rules. To make sure they don’t get away with breaking the rules, conduct routine inspections. Let your tenants know when you’ll pop in to check their decor. If you’re working with a property management company, they can check the decor during their scheduled inspections. Don’t worry, your tenant won’t be able to “hide” that they’re not following the rules. They likely think it’s too tiresome to keep playing “pretend” during the scheduled inspections.
#5 Encourage Snitching
Get the neighbors involved, especially if you have a hunch that your tenants aren’t as honest as they seem. Tell the neighbors to observe your tenant’s outdoor decor, and to determine whether or not they’re violating the HOA’s rules on holiday decorating. Alternatively, you could enlist the services of a property management company.
#6 Set a Timeline
Maybe your tenant prefers to put their decorations up on the first day of December. Maybe they’re the type of person that likes to keep the decor up ‘til January. Or maybe they like to keep the decor up year-round. Whatever it is that they like to do, make sure that they play by the book. HOAs can create rules that restrict homeowners, including tenants, from putting up their holiday decorations far too early. Likewise, HOAs can set a “cut-off” date for taking down the decor.
Pro Tip: If you’re hiring a holiday decorating company to add cheer to your rental property, be sure to check when you’ll need to take the decor down. If your decor stays up, you could face a hefty fine from your association.
HOA rules often take away the fun of holiday decorating, but by working around them, your tenants can decorate a rental that’ll put the Home Alone house to shame. This holiday season, work with the property managers at Luxury Property Care to check your HOA’s rules, and to make sure that your tenants decorate accordingly with stunning home decorating ideas.