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Manager's Advice: Strata Holiday Decoration Enforcement Tips

In this series, we ask our experts for their advice on real-life situations that residents and council members of a strata corporation are currently facing. Read on to learn about a dilemma seen in many stratas and what our experts advise.

Strata Corporation Dilemma: Holiday Decoration Enforcement

The holidays are a fun and exciting time of year, and strata residents often decorate their houses in celebration of the upcoming festivities. We all know how important it is for families to decorate their homes for the holidays, but we're also reminded of the bylaws and rules v that limit such modifications in Strata Building. What's some advice that you would give to a strata council in enforcing the CC&Rs during the holidays and maintaining a very merry season in their community?

Manager's Advice: Consult the Governing Documents First

"When preparing to review communities for holiday or seasonal decoration violations, always confirm the specific language as written in the bylaws and rules. Some may have restrictions for 'seasonal' decorations. Some documents may encompass both, but always consult the governing documents and use reasonable discretion.

Generally, holiday decorations would be defined as distinct representations of various religious or non-religious holidays, like Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. December religious holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, carry different symbolism and colors. Therefore, it's important to evaluate the decorations in question to make a determination. Many homeowners have strong emotional connections to religious holidays, so we always want to be mindful and precise to avoid any unnecessary conflict.

Bylaws and rules may include timeframes for installation and removal of decor before and after the date of each specific holiday. However, in certain geographic locations, the weather can remain bitterly cold through the end of February or early March. Exterior decorative items may be frozen into the ground, holiday lights hung along gutters may be iced over, and homeowners may not be able to physically remove the decorations within the specified timeframe. The homeowner doesn't intend to disregard the bylaws and rules, so council may wish to allow homeowners a grace period until weather conditions warm up pending on each region."

- Lisa Evans, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, Community Association Manager, Associa Chicagoland

Manager's Advice: Be Reasonable

"Nobody wants to be considered a Grinch, but it is the responsibility of the strata council  and management to follow the provided regulations. Some people may want to take advantage of unseasonably warmer temps to hang holiday decorations and others might be looking to get an early start on holiday festivities. For those who want to start their holiday prep in advance, I suggest the council be reasonable and find a compromise.

What has been successful in the past with the councils we manage is the allowance of hanging exterior lights and decor on homes, trees, and shrubbery, but not illuminating until the bylaws and rules permit. Installation of all other lawn decor should be on hold until the strata bylaws and rules allow for seasonal decorations."

- Lynn Schubbe, Community Manager, Associa Chicagoland  

Manager's Advice: Send Nice Reminders

"During this time of year, we like to send a friendly note via TownSq, reminding everyone of the proper community etiquette for holiday decorations. I also insert a 'Happy Holidays' message with a coupon or statement mailing. Although enforcing the bylaws and rules can at times be tricky, friendly reminders seem to communicate to residents in a heartfelt and thoughtful way how to celebrate within the guidelines of the community."

- Rose Jurczewski, CMCA®, AMS®, Community Association Manager, Associa Chicagoland

5 Strata Holiday Best Practices for a Very Merry Season

At Associa, we have a long history of helping strata boards keep the magic of the holidays in the air by ensuring their community is calm and bright. Download our FREE ebook, "5 Strata Corporation Holiday Best Practices for a Very Merry Season," to learn what to do to ensure a holly, jolly winter in your community.