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Originally Published: December 10, 2010
 
Check your condo rules before you put up that menorah or Santa decoration, or you might find yourself taking your holiday decorations down a lot sooner than you planned.
 

 
I want to flout condo rules and put up holiday decorations despite an HOA rule banning them. What’s going to happen to me?
  • Option 1: Nothing may happen because the HOA rules aren’t enforced.
  • Option 2: You might get a letter asking you to take down your decor.
  • Option 3: You might get fined for breaking condo rules. Constructive ways to balance your need to deck the halls with condo rules that ban decorations:
Talk to your neighbours. If it’s your first holiday in your new home, check with your neighbours to find out what's really allowed. Condos that ban lights and signage most of the year may ignore illegal decorations during the holiday season. "But do understand these rules and regulations are enforceable by boards of corporations that are created contractually," Poliakoff says.
 
Take your holiday case to the board. Call the president and ask if you can speak at the next meeting. Show up with a short written proposal to modify the HOA rules to allow specific kinds of decorations, like lights on balconies or door wreaths.
 
"Don't criticize or start calling anyone names. Suggest to your board they amend their rules to allow for holiday decorations within limits," Poliakoff says. Offer to write an email or letter outlining a holiday decorating exception that runs during a set period like Dec. 15 to Jan. 1.
 
Check state/provincial laws on condo rules. Got no satisfaction from your trip to the condo board? You might be able to appeal to a higher authority. Some states have a large body of home owners association laws that may override HOA rules in certain instances, while other states have few home owners association laws.
 
"There are laws in some states that do allow the display of items such as religious items or wreaths," Poliakoff says.
 
If you can argue state/provincial law, sharing a copy of the law with the condo rule-makers may get them to change their minds about holiday decorations. If it doesn’t, you can consult a lawyer to find out about how much it will cost to sue your condo board to force it to follow state/provincial laws.
 
Source: HouseLogic, republished under licence through NAR. Author: Marcia Jedd

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