For The Holidays-What is Allowed?
Lanier Coulter, Esq.
December 11, 2013
the holidays, residents often decorate their property with
things such as wreaths, flags and lights. However, the holidays
hold different meanings and customs for residents.
Some residents may celebrate Christmas, while others
celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
It is common for boards of directors to receive questions
or complaints on what sort of decorations and customs are
governing documents for most communities allow for seasonal
decorations, as well as define a time frame specifying how long
holiday decorations can be displayed within the community.
However, when it comes to allowing decorations, and
enforcing these regulations, an association should be inclusive
as possible to avoid any potential claims of discrimination
under the Federal Fair Housing Act. For example, a community
association should not adopt regulations allowing for Christmas
lights to be put up during the customary time period, but which
would preclude a Jewish owner from hanging a mezuzah during its
respective time period. Boards should also be sensitive to
holiday traditions or decorations from other cultures or
religions of which it may not be aware.
an association should not spend money decorating for a
particular religious holiday on common property to the exclusion
of other religious holidays.
The easiest way to avoid this issue is to decorate for
the season and avoid religious
decorations on the association property altogether.
In the alternative, if a group of owners would like to
put up a Christmas tree in the community clubhouse, the
association should also afford the same opportunity for owners
of different religions.
aware of and sensitive to the fact that the holidays are
celebrated in a variety of ways with a variety of customs will
help a board of directors successfully navigate the season and
avoid potential liability.