We’re getting into that time of year again: the three-month period that has us leaping from one holiday to the next. From early October through New Year’s, life is a flurry of holiday planning, seasonal products, and fun festivities.
Of course, this brings a whole new set of challenges for any homeowners association. To weather the holidays with fewer conflicts and more joy, take advantage of these top tips.
1. Evaluate Your Regulations
Unless you’re still establishing your HOA, you probably have regulations in place already. This might include limitations for outdoor decorations, guidelines for parties and parking, and more.
Now is a good time to evaluate whether your rules need an update. Look over those that are especially relevant during the holidays, like rules about decorations and parties. Do they seem to cover everything they should, or are there loopholes that homeowners have taken advantage of in the past?
If you think updates are in order, it could be a lengthy process, so get it started early. Be clear about what problems you’re trying to prevent and the changes you’re proposing.
2. Remind Homeowners of the Guidelines
Chances are that your neighbors don’t think much about decorating rules outside of the holidays. In that case, it’s easy for them to forget the limitations until they get that dreaded violation notice.
To head off problems before they occur, send a friendly email to your homeowners reminding them of the relevant guidelines. You can attach the full document, but paste the most holiday-relevant rules into the body of the email so they’re more visible. This should include any rules about decorations, parties or gatherings, and anything else that’s more likely to occur during the holidays.
3. Encourage Communication in Advance
No matter what you do, you can expect at least a few neighborly conflicts throughout the holiday season. You can keep them to a minimum by encouraging extra courtesy throughout the community.
When you email your homeowners about the regulations, advise them to talk through potential problems before they arise. For example, maybe the Smiths have a decoration idea that abides by the rules but is still large or unique enough that the neighbors may not love it. It’s best if they talk to their neighbors in advance and make sure it won’t cause them difficulty.
This gives them a chance to negotiate and adjust some details in advance if necessary. The simple act of asking will also set a precedent for courtesy and communication, so any potential conflict will be more civil and kind.
4. Decorate Common Areas
Your HOA isn’t just there to police the neighborhood. You want to have some fun with the community too.
Getting festive with your decor is a great way to do that. Decorate the common areas like your lobby, community park, and other shared spaces for the holidays. Make it fun and festive but keep it within your regulations.
This accomplishes two goals. First, it creates more of a sense of positivity and community within the neighborhood. Second, it allows you to lead by example by creating beautiful displays that still follow the homeowners association guidelines.
5. Send Out Ideas and Recognitions
If you send out neighborhood newsletters to your homeowners on a regular basis, try having some fun while encouraging neighbors to follow the rules. Each week, email some fun decorating ideas that don’t break the HOA regulations.
You can also select one house each week to praise for their creative, attractive holiday decor. It’s a fun way to encourage festivity while showing homeowners that there are plenty of ways to decorate within the community’s limits.
6. Find Ways to Celebrate Together
The holidays can be a great way to build a stronger bond between neighbors. Those friendships make the community a better place to live while also cutting down on the number of neighborhood conflicts.
Plan some events or projects that bring the community together. This could be a holiday gathering, a decorating contest, or a coordinated decoration effort across multiple homes. In the true spirit of the holidays, you could also plan a charity project like a donation drive.
7. Develop an Easy Process for Reporting Violations
Unless your neighborhood is extremely small, chances are you’ll have at least a few HOA violations throughout the holiday season. You’re likely to have a higher number of violations than you get during other times of the year.
For that reason, you need to have an efficient and organized process in place for violations. Make sure homeowners know how to report violations. Have a designated process regarding warnings, conflict resolution, and penalty administration.
If you don’t have an efficient way to do this, you might be able to manage during other times of the year, but the holidays are far different. Create a system now so you don’t end up with hours of extra work in your already busy holiday schedule.
8. Be Specific
When violations arise, it’s important to be clear about specific about what the problem is. When you contact the homeowner, include photos and point out the specific violation.
For example, don’t tell them, “Your Halloween decorations are too large.” Instead, tell them that “Inflatable lawn decor must be a maximum of seven feet tall, and your inflatable mummy is ten feet tall.”
This way, the homeowner can fix the direct problem without making more changes than necessary. It shows respect for their time and effort that any of us would want to receive too.
Preparing Your Homeowners Association for the Holidays
The holidays can bring some unique challenges for a homeowners association, but at the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a fun time of the year. Preparing now with the tips above will make the upcoming months smoother, easier, and more joyful for the whole neighborhood.
If you’re struggling with your HOA and you’re ready to simplify your life, call our HOA management specialists for help.