With October here and Halloween rapidly approaching, it is officially the season for homeowners to decorate their yards and their front stoops with pumpkins, ghost cut-outs, scarecrows, and other festive décor. What some homeowners may not be aware of is that, in many HOA-governed communities, there are set policies and rules that dictate which Halloween decorations are and are not allowed. In fact, many HOA board members may not be fully aware of how the governing documents address this spooky holiday.
The first important thing to note is that HOA rules do not restrict Halloween decorations simply out of the desire to stamp out fun, or to prohibit homeowners from having a good time. In most communities, some Halloween decorating is permitted, so long as it is within reason. The HOA governing documents likely just prohibit decorations that could be generally irksome and intrusive to other community members, particularly immediate neighbors.
As such, the best advice we can give to homeowners and HOA board members alike is just to know what the governing documents say. In particular, be aware of some of the following items; while every HOA has its own unique rules, these are common entries in governing documents:
- In most communities, the biggest offenders are those Halloween decorations that make noise. This can obviously cause a disturbance among neighbors, so check the rules before putting out any décor that makes shrieking or wailing noises, or even emits music.
- Lights can also prove disruptive, though in most communities, they are acceptable if they are timed to shut off at a reasonable hour.
- So-called “yard art” is sometimes forbidden as well, especially shrines and figurines of popular characters.
- Any decorations that have religious implications might be frowned upon by the HOA, so it is smart to ensure that you’re not buying any Halloween décor that might allude to, say, Wicca.
HOA homeowners are encouraged to consult with a board member before putting up any decorations—and board members, in turn, are encouraged to really know what the guidelines say!
by: Josh Hurst