The trick-or-treaters have come and gone, and there is an ever-so-slight briskness in the air.
That means the holidays – and all the twinkling lights, festive decorations and parties that come with them – will soon be upon us.
But before you pull out the tinsel and send out those invitations, the best place to start planning your holidays is by checking your community’s policies and guidelines.
Here are a few quick tips to ensure you can celebrate in style… without getting your name added to your community or condominium association’s naughty list.
Break out the handbook
Don’t assume all community and condominium associations are the same. Rules regarding the holidays may vary widely, so this is the perfect time for a quick refresher on your association’s particular guidelines.
You may have a hard copy of those policies tucked away on a desk shelf or kitchen drawer but, if not, most community and condominium associations keep their policies posted online.
Be on the lookout for outdoor limitations
As you peruse policies, remember that setting up your tree or lighting your menorah inside
your home is not an issue. It’s what goes on outside
that may be in conflict with your association’s guidelines, since those decorations affect everyone around you.
Often, there is a general ban on outdoor décor for buildings that have vinyl-siding exteriors, for example, and decking a multi-family building’s halls or common areas can be out of the question, since associations must consider all residents’ backgrounds and belief systems and ensure that the common elements are not damaged or compromised.
Many associations simply approach items placed outside your front door as a potential safety hazard (think a plugged-in electric nativity scene with moving parts and sound) for visitors and other residents who may be stopping by your home.
And for those associations that do allow the stringing of lights or other festive accents, there could be a timeline to follow for hanging them up – and taking them down.
The next two months likely mean lots
of gatherings of friends and family, whether it be around the dining room table for Thanksgiving or counting down to the New Year in your neighborhood’s clubhouse.
While it’s certainly a time for celebration, be sure your parties don’t interfere with your community or condominium association’s rules - or create inconveniences for your neighbors.
If you’re inviting people to your home, be aware of the parking restrictions within your community. Do you have a designated number of spaces per unit? Are those spaces reserved for specific units? Can visitors park anywhere or is there a specific lot in which they must leave their cars? Is towing enforced?
Once you find the answers to these questions, include any helpful notes or maps in your holiday party invites so your guests aren’t unpleasantly surprised or don’t inadvertently violate rules when they apply.
If you’re planning to host a party in a clubhouse, don’t wait! Reservations for common facilities fill up fast this time of year and the last thing you want is to have a guest list that has nowhere to go.
When you call to make reservations, check to ensure you are following your association’s rules on alcohol. Adult beverages may be off-limits completely, or you may be required to secure one-time event insurance coverage in your name. There may also be some distinctions regarding BYOB events and those with a cash bar provided by a licensed caterer.
When in doubt, ask.
Your community management company can assist you with specific questions, and it’s also good practice to notify your neighbors of your party so they will (hopefully) be more tolerant of any extra noise or a cramped parking lot. And if you’re worried your festive spirit may offend your neighbors – or vice versa – talk it out before turning to your community or condominium association to intervene.
: A little extra planning can go a long way toward keeping the holidays safe and happy for all involved.
Mike Stonestreet is a 28-year veteran of the professional HOA management industry who has achieved one of the highest education-based designations in the field, that of Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM). Community Association Management Services (CAMS) has been a leading association management company since its inception in 1991. CAMS is a trusted provider of management services for more than 265 associations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. To find out how CAMS can benefit your community, call 910-256-2021, email [email protected], or visit www.CAMSmgt.com.