Condos, HOAs, and Holiday Cheer

Christmas tree with snow. Bring in the holiday cheer.

So the holidays are upon us, and everywhere you look, decorations are starting to appear. It’s certainly festive and shows great holiday cheer, but how does that type of Yuletide joy translate to the life of a condo owner?

The answer, unfortunately, is that it doesn’t. For the most past, condo owners are forbidden from using exterior decorations of any kind — not just around the holidays, but year ‘round. Why? In a word, liability.

In virtually every HOA agreement, it’s spelled out that the condo owner is responsible for maintaining everything within their four interior walls. Anything beyond that, including exterior walls, hallways, walkways, and other common areas, are the responsibility of the HOA.

Now let’s say, for example, you decided to string a set of holiday lights outside your condo door and someone somehow tripped over them and was injured. If there are no rules or by-laws in place restricting the use of decorations, then the HOA would be liable. If there are such rules in place and you, the condo owner, flouted them, then you’d be liable. Either way, it’s an ugly situation that no one want to deal with.

To extend the hypothetical even further, what if the holiday lights somehow caused a fire? There could be loss of property, loss of possessions, or even loss of life. The possibilities are terrifying to imagine.

So when you’re forbidden to decorate your condo’s exterior, remember that in the grand scheme of things, it’s for your safety and the safety of others. You can still fill your condo with all the decorations you like, and that should bring you plenty of holiday cheer this season.

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