Halloween’s nearing, and we’ll all revel in the spirit of the Holiday Season very soon. It’s that time of year that we all look forward to – ‘tis the time to be jolly, indulge in the best food, and put out elaborate decorations. While the idea of beautiful decorations sounds wonderful during the Holiday Season, homeowners are often on tenterhooks, hoping they haven\’t violated any HOA CC&Rs with their all-out decorations.

For HOA board members and managers, it’s a whole different ballgame. For them, it’s all about maintaining peace while ensuring people follow the rules. And that’s a challenging task. So, HOA board members and managers out there, if you’re looking to ensure residents comply with HOA CC&R guidelines this holiday season, here’s a guide to help you out.

Holiday Décor Challenges and How to Deal With Violations

Bright lights, noisy, or life-sized inflatables are just some reasons that can cause a nuisance in the neighborhood, requiring you to step up and intervene. Let’s have a look at some of the typical violations you’d come across during the holiday season and how you can address them:

Appropriateness of Decor

This is the first aspect you need to address. Even though a certain level of civic sense is expected of residents, there will always be some who’ll still go ahead and put up inappropriate decor. As an HOA board member or manager, it’s an important responsibility to regulate the decor that residents put up and ensure the decor is not offensive, derogatory, inappropriate, or disrespectful.

Larger Than Life Decor

To ensure there are no violations concerning decor size, it\’s best to list clear guidelines on the allowable size of decor well in advance. The allowable height of the decor, safety measures, aesthetics, and other aspects should be included in these HOA CC&R guidelines.

If some residents still wish to install decor that could pose safety risks (for example, decor that needs mounting), they can have their requests reviewed by the Architectural Review Committee. The committee can deny permission to install or assist residents in installing the decor safely.

Flashy Lights

What’s a celebration without the lights? But sometimes, lights are too bright and flashy, disturbing the overall aesthetic of the neighborhood. Some blaring lights may even become a cause of nuisance.

To counter this, HOAs can create guidelines on different aspects related to lights – from the color of the lights, permitted timings to operate the lights, the number of lights, and the type of lights.

Noisy Decor

These days, many of these fancy and noisy items are available in the market, and let’s be honest – many residents love to feature them at their doorsteps or front yards. As an HOA member, you need to have a separate set of HOA CC&R guidelines on the noisy decor to ensure no disturbance in the neighborhood.

These guidelines can mention the permissible ‘noisy’ decor items and the items that are big no-nos. Don’t hesitate to strictly disallow any decor that would disrupt the peace in the locality. You can, of course, be a bit flexible. For some of these decors, you can also establish fixed hours when residents can turn on the decor and when they are required to turn them off.

Safety Challenges

At times, elaborate holiday decor can also result in several safety hazards. That oversized Christmas tree a resident decided to place by their doorstep? Well, it looks stunning, but it also blocks the sidewalk! Imagine the inconvenience caused to every person walking past their door.

Apart from this, residents may also put up decor that is not outdoor-friendly. This may result in injuries to people or property damage as well. These are just some safety challenges that you, as an HOA board member or manager, must tackle during the Holiday Season.

As the HOA board member or manager, when you formulate rules about décor during the Holiday Season, you expect all the residents to comply. But unfortunately, that’s not what happens. Every year, you’ll still have a certain number of people who don’t pay heed to any rules and will end up violating the rules.

As part of the HOA, you know how difficult it is to deal with holiday decor challenges. But here’s the key – educating residents about the rules improves compliance in the first place, reducing disturbances or safety hazards. Here are some ways you can ensure compliance with the HOA CC&Rs:

How to Ensure Compliance

Make the Rules Simple and Easy to Understand

List the rules in simple, straightforward language to get the point across to all the residents. Rules need to be concise so that people can quickly browse through them. You can mention the rules in separate categories (like the ones mentioned above) to make it easy to understand.  This helps ensure there’s no ambiguity or room for loopholes in the rules.  

 Issue the Rules as Early as You Can

The community guidelines need to be communicated to the residents well in advance. This would give them ample time to rethink their decor and incorporate necessary changes to comply with decor guidelines.

Re-evaluate Outdated Rules

HOAs must carefully review and evaluate their CC&Rs and ensure they are updated yearly. This would ensure that the CC&Rs are up to date and reflect today’s expectations.  Also, a gap in communication can result in residents being unaware of any new guidelines put in place.  This can hinder compliance.  Once the community’s rules are updated, it’s vital to notify residents about the changes, why they were made, and how they impact them.

Culture Sensitive Rules

Communities are diverse and have different cultures and festive traditions. When creating or updating the HOA CC&R rules, you must keep this in mind so that the rules are fair to everyone. This would further encourage people to comply with the laws, as they know the rules were made keeping their culture in mind.

Ensure You Include FAQs

Even if the rules described in the CC&Rs are simple, residents may still have questions. You can create a separate FAQ section to address the most common questions. This would help residents have a much better understanding of what the HOA CC&R guidelines expect them to do (or not do!).

Safety and Compliance Checks

HOA Board members and managers can run safety and compliance checks to ensure residents follow the updated guidelines. These inspections can be carried out twice – once when people have just started to put up their decor and the next during the Holiday Season.

Bring “Fun” into Compliance

We’re all aware that everyone wants to throw caution to the wind during the festive season and go all out. In such a scenario, no one wants anyone to force them to follow a set of guidelines. So, instead of attempting to enforce the policies on them, try different ways this time – like sending out a newsletter encouraging them to ‘celebrate with care’ or announcing a holiday decor contest.

In your community’s CC&R document, make sure to include all allowable decor items so people will comply.  It could be anything – the best lights, a crafty gingerbread house, or a prize for minimal decor. Incorporate other gentle, creative ways people would be more than happy to comply with the CC&R rules. This is also a great way to unite the community, create harmony, and keep residents engaged in the festivities.

Offer Assistance

To ensure the safety and security of the neighborhood, you can always assist residents to put up their decor safely. You can also help people take down the decor items promptly (after the holiday season). 

How HOA Software Can Help You Manage Compliance

HOA software is designed to assist board members and managers enforce HOA CC&Rs confidently while increasing the public appeal of their communities. From informing and educating residents about community rules to automating the violation process, HOA software can help.

If you’re looking for a more efficient way to ensure compliance this holiday season, Pilera’s HOA software can help you simplify the process.  

Automated Communication

With Pilera, you can send regular communication or reminders to the residents in your community, informing them of the rules. You can send out the messages via email, text, or postal mail – residents can choose how they want to hear from you.

Maintaining a steady flow of communication with your community via their preferred method of communication is a great way to ensure they remember and follow the established HOA CC&R guidelines.

Storage of Documents

All those HOA CC&R documents that you so painstakingly compiled? Well, Pilera provides a secure portal to store all of these documents. These documents are easily accessible to the residents in one place.

An informed and aware resident will likely comply with guidelines and issues. You can easily organize the documents in separate folders so the residents can easily find CC&Rs or any other newly uploaded documents. You can also notify residents when you upload a new document, and they can log into the portal to securely access the CC&Rs.  

Knowledge Base

Pilera’s HOA software also enables boards and managers to post knowledge base articles on commonly asked CC&R questions. Residents can resolve their questions regarding HOA CC&Rs through the knowledge base feature without needing to call or email the management office. 

Tracking Rule Violations

Despite all the effort you put in to ensure compliance with guidelines, violations will exist. Pilera makes it easy for HOAs to track violations and categorize and notify residents by email. This ensures quick communication with the violating resident and prompt response from their end, too.

Board members can keep track of all the violations that occur in a community over some time. Residents, too, can resolve violations directly in the portal. Pilera helps maintain a record of all this data, making it easier for board members and managers to identify problem areas and educate citizens better.

Conclusion: Maintain a Balance between Holiday Spirit and Compliance

This holiday season, strike a balance between spreading holiday cheer and upholding the rules. By keeping the rules clear and being fair, you can foster harmony in your community.

With the help of HOA software, you can streamline the compliance process – from educating residents to efficiently resolving violations. So, don\’t delay educating your residents about decor rules this holiday season. Discover how Pilera can make community management stress-free today!

About Pilera

Pilera Software is the premier community and property management software that has helped thousands of community managers enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. To learn how Pilera can help to improve efficiency and reduce costs, book a personalized demo

HOA Flag

You may remember last year we shared a blog post, “A Condo HOA Versus Old Glory,” in which we detailed a contentious battle between a condo owner in Jacksonville, Florida, and the HOA who told him he was disallowed from displaying a small American flag in a flower pot outside his condo.

It’s hard to say why these things tend to keep happening in Jacksonville, but a similar struggle is underway at another condo complex, where a woman is being told to remove the Stars and Stripes from her sixth-floor balcony.

Once again, the condo association is claiming that it violates the rule against hanging banners in common areas, which is a very common by-law of most associations, both for safety and aesthetic reasons.

While the previous scenario was being handled strictly by the courts, this one is turning ugly in the real world. There’s video footage of a teenager attempting to destroy the flag. The police have been called to the complex over the issue 11 times so far, and the woman has been receiving anti-Semitic messages on her doorstep.

The condo association insists that while the other residents are “fed up” with the flag, their only point of contention with it is the placement. An attorney for the HOA has submitted paperwork demanding that the flag be removed by today.

What do you think? HOAs have every right to enforce their rules when it comes to decorations and their placement, but if it’s not a safety issue, should the American flag get a pass?

Pilera is a best-of-class, easy-to-use, comprehensive online property management solution for apartments, condos, and associations. Pilera provides the easiest, most comprehensive data management capability available to property managers, leasing agents, boards of directors, and back-office personnel. Quickly and easily access whatever you need, whenever you need it, from wherever you need to be with office or mobile phone connectivity. You are never out of touch. Act on the document/information accessed from the office or “on-the-road” with Pilera-supported mobile capability. Contact us today!