Despite the warm temperatures that indicate otherwise, fall has arrived in Arizona, which means Halloween is fast approaching. Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday of costumes, candy and spooky festivities, so many homeowners embrace the season by adorning their houses with themed decorations. However, for those living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, there may be restrictions regarding decor.
From the HOA’s perspective, safety and community are the top priorities. Any language used in the CC&Rs (covenants, conditions & restrictions) regulates holiday decorations through the lens of maintaining the safety of neighborhood residents as well as the cohesiveness of the community, including its curb appeal.
Homeowners, on the other hand, may feel overly controlled by their HOA if they cannot decorate on their own terms. It is important to strike a balance and consult an experienced Phoenix real estate attorney if you need help navigating a dispute between residents and HOAs.
When it comes to Arizona HOA restrictions around Halloween decorations, these are some commonly asked questions.
Can an HOA legally regulate Halloween decorations?
Many Arizona HOA communities have rules about the exterior of residents’ homes but make certain exceptions during the holidays. Therefore, the rules differ between neighborhoods. HOAs are within their rights to prohibit dangerous decorations, but more subjective measurements like offensiveness or excessiveness of decor can be debated.
Why do HOAs regulate Halloween decorations?
HOA board members typically establish regulations for two reasons: safety and cohesiveness. This includes banning harmful or potentially harmful decorations like prop weapons or strobe lights, as well as prohibiting neighbors from placing decorations in common areas or sidewalks where someone could trip and fall. The other benefit of HOA communities is that they are well-maintained, and part of that maintenance is ensuring that all houses have the level of curb appeal expected by the HOA board.
As part of the HOA board, what guidelines should I create?
Homeowners want to feel in control of their homes, which is why many HOAs create guidelines rather than strict rules. Here are a few relevant factors to consider:
- Timeline—How early can neighbors put up their decorations, and when must they be taken down? It also might be worth the extra effort of establishing a list of Halloween vs. general fall decorations that can be left up until the December holiday season.
- Amount—What are the appropriate noise levels, and how much light is too much? Define the amount of decor that is excessive so neighbors understand the acceptable range, should they choose to participate.
- Location—The most important regulation in terms of safety, this defines where neighbors can put up decorations. Common areas and highly trafficked walkways, for example, should be left clear.
What are other best practices for HOA communities during Halloween?
Board members should consider hosting a neighborhood Halloween party or another festive event that promotes good spirits and strengthens the community. This also allows the adults to collectively watch over the children who still need chaperones.
All parties should also remember to be considerate and fair. Tastes vary, so residents and board members should be prepared to have conversations about holiday decorations in the neighborhood and consult with a real estate attorney who is familiar with HOA laws in Arizona and can help communities establish reasonable guidelines.
Find An Experienced Phoenix Real Estate Attorney
The attorneys at MacQueen & Gottlieb have significant experience with real estate law in Arizona. Our attorneys can assist you with any issues and help you understand your rights. If you live in an HOA community and are experiencing disputes over holiday decorations, our attorneys can assist you in pursuing that case. Contact us today at (602) 726-2229 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.