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Swift and negative HOA response to homeowners’ Christmas lights

We present a Christmas tale today in one of our last blog posts of the year at The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh.

Candidly, it strays a bit from customary narratives this time of year marked by merriment and festivities. Instead, it features a year-end spat between a married couple living in a planned community and their homeowners association.

And while it does spotlight Christmas lights and decorations, the story’s gist is not about their mood-enhancing glitter but, rather, about simply taking them down.

That’s the way it sometimes goes when community residents’ actions or behavior stray from what a management body deems as acceptable. HOA boards exercise authority that reposes in them pursuant to a planned development’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, and they routinely wield it.

Sometimes to residents’ detriment. We noted that in a recent blog entry, stressing in our November 26 post that property owners “often have mixed reactions about HOAs.”

The above-cited story – which is presently receiving a fair amount of national exposure – goes far toward explaining why.

To wit: A couple in a planned development put out what one media piece states was “a handful of Christmas decorations” on November 1 and was promptly ordered by their HOA to take them down.

They questioned why. The HOA responded that it was too early to decorate. The couple asked for a specific date signaling compliance. The HOA couldn’t give them one, simply responding that they needed to wait until “closer to the holiday season.”

The homeowners are miffed. They told one national reporting team following the dictate that, “The HOA has so much time on its hands.”

Our readers are diverse, and it is likely that their reactions to the story are mixed. Some might view the HOA action as petty and overreaching behavior. Others might see it as a reasonable exercise of authority imposed to maintain community standards and order.

Whatever the case, the tale does underscore that tension sometimes features in homeowner/HOA interactions. We duly note on our website that a resident with a grievance “might reasonably want to contact a proven real estate attorney well grounded in HOA matters” to help when conflict does arise.