One of my young daughter’s favorite YouTube clips involves an elaborately decorated house, whose thousands of colored Christmas lights were programmed to flicker, strobe, wave, and blink to the tune of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s hard-rock holiday anthem “Wizards in Winter.” (The guy’s electric bill must have been through the well-lighted roof that December).
One of the benefits of living in a condominium is that your neighbor is not allowed to do to his unit what the guy in that video did to his. This is also, as the owner of the Trans-Siberian house would argue, one of the drawbacks. Living in a community means abiding by the rules of that community association, and when the holidays roll around, exterior decorations can become a thorny issue.
“It comes up every year,” says Ellen Hirsch de Haan, an attorney with Becker & Poliakoff, in Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, “just like the holidays do.”
A miniature Stars and Stripes on the mailbox for the Fourth of July seems beyond reproach but what about festooning the front of your unit with zombie tombstones for Halloween, or a life-size Nativity scene for Christmas? How much is too much? And who gets to decide?
“HOAs—especially if they are single family homes—have greatly relaxed decorating policies for holiday décor,” says Evelyn Jasper, a regional director at The Continental Group, a property management company in Hollywood.