Consumer Advisory: HOAs and holiday lights
'Tis the season to put the lights up ... and take the lights down
It's a time honored Colorado tradition to keep those lights and decorations up until after the National Western Stock Show, but before you participate, first know your common interest community or Home Owner’s Association (HOA) rules about keeping up holiday decor.
DENVER (Dec. 31, 2015) –- As we head into the new year, many homeowners have had their fill expressing their holiday spirit with decorations galore and are already beginning to take decorations down. If you like leaving your decorations up, be aware that your enthusiasm may be tempered by the community that you live in. If you live in a common interest community or Home Owners Association (HOA), restrictions - and allowances - can differ from one neighborhood to another, if you are in condominium property versus single family homes, or on common versus private property within the community.
So while it may be a time-honored Colorado tradition to keep your lights and decorations up until after the National Western Stock Show in January, before you participate, first know your Home Owner’s Association rules around holiday decor or you may face an unwanted fine. The HOA Information and Resource Center in the Division of Real Estate, part of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), encourages you to take five minutes to review these tips.
1) First, look to your HOA’s governing documents – the covenants/declarations, and rules and regulations.
- Are there any restrictions in those documents that set the time period in which the decorations can be put up and when they must be removed?
- Are there rules that set the time of the day that the lights can be illuminated?
- Are there any safety rules in place having to do with displays, cords and electrical outlet usage?
- What rules are in place limiting decorations in common areas of the community or the use of common area electrical outlets?
- What rules are in place limiting decorations in limited common elements of the community, for instance on a condominium deck?
- Are there any rules pertaining to what might be considered “offensive” decorations?
- What rules may cover display noise and other “nuisance” factors?
2) If you are still unsure about the rules, contact your board of director members, your community association manager, and your neighbors (just so that you do not get on their bad side by displaying your extravagant “Griswold Family Display.")
3) Finally, always consider safety and be mindful of displays that have cords that create trip hazards, that could overload electrical circuit breakers, and any other potential fire hazards that can affect other community owners in adjoining units or homes.
If you live in a common interest community or HOA, set a reminder for yourself each year to first check what type of decorations that you can put up, how bright those decorations can appear, when they can be turned on, when they must be turned off, when you can put them up, and specific requirements about when they must be removed from the property. HOA’s can take enforcement action against an owner who does not follow the rules, which would surely put a damper on your artistic expression and holiday joy for years to come.
For more information about HOAs, visit the HOA Information and Resource Center. Read all of DORA's helpful holiday-related "Take 5 to Get Wise" consumer advisories or visit askDORA.colorado.gov for more information.