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Subject: Yard decor
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Author Messages
CarolS12
(Washington)

Posts:12


05/19/2013 10:13 AM  
I live in an upscale HOA that is experiencing a new problem with new homeowners moving in.
Our problem...Although our rules and regs address holiday displays, we are now looking at the need for rules governing porch and yard displaying of decorative items at other times. What one homeowner views as tasteful, another views as tacky. Items such as chickens, rabbits, deer, knomes, pots, planters, blow-up turkeys, large butterflys, wind catchers, etc. are up for discussion.

We'd love to hear how other HOAs have dealt with this issue without being overly restrictive but keeping items within bounds and tasteful.

Carol in Tacoma
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9134


05/19/2013 10:35 AM  
We would just steal them so the owner would be so frustrated they'd stop putting that stuff out... LOL! That was a JOKE!

Your HOA is managed by the members for the members. It can create the rules it wants to live by as long as it is documented and approved. So if your HOA wants to amend the by-laws to make certain items against the rules it may do so. However, I would like for you to read your rules to see if there are already rules in place for this. Most HOA's have it in their language that ONLY signs of For sale/For rent may be displayed. So some of these decorations may fall into this area.

Keep in mind your HOA may have the ability to fine or remove these items (at owner's cost) but only if there is a fining schedule in place. Meaning you have to have a list of what is considered violation and the fine associated with it. However, fines can not be the basis of liens/foreclosure in many states. So be careful in that area. Fines are just punitive damages to get someone into compliance. The HOA has stronger teeth if they remove the item, send the owner the bill for removal, and then lien them if they don't pay that bill. That is the extreme in removal procedures.

Former HOA President
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16700


05/19/2013 10:57 AM  
Carol,

You are correct that often yard decor becomes an issue of personal tastes rather than an issue of governing documents. Therefore, we treat all yard decor the same. That is to say, it doesn't matter if it's gnomes or rabbets, planters or ceramic mushrooms.

We didn't want to ban everything and we didn't want to have personal tastes come into play that often. Our policy is:

EXTERIOR DECORATIVE OBJECTS.

An application for approval must be submitted to and reviewed by the Architectural Committee prior to the installation or erection of any oversized exterior decorative objects, natural or man-made. Oversized decorative objects are defined as any object exceeding 12 inches in height and 12 inches in either width or depth and includes, but is not limited to, such items as sculptures, fountains, driftwood, free standing poles of any type. Oversized decorative objects will be considered based on their size, color, scale, location, compatibility with architectural and environmental design qualities and their visual impact of adjoining lots.

Smaller exterior objects do not require a prior application for approval to be submitted to the Architectural Committee but must remain in good condition and repair

Garden flags using poles that do not exceed 36 inches in height and 24 inches in width do not require prior approval providing the pole and flag are kept in good condition and repair.

Signs are not considered exterior decorative objects and are covered elsewhere within these guidelines.

Holiday decorations are generally exempt from this requirement, but shall not be displayed more than 45 days before or 15 days after the holiday has occurred.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9313


05/19/2013 11:59 AM  
Tim

You say:

EXTERIOR DECORATIVE OBJECTS.

An application for approval must be submitted to and reviewed by the Architectural Committee prior to the installation or erection of any oversized exterior decorative objects, natural or man-made.....

Were it me I would have it say:

An application for approval must be submitted to and reviewed by the Architectural Committee prior to the installation or erection of any exterior decorative objects, natural or man-made.

I would not try and define size. No pink plastic flamingoes would make it by me no matter the size..........LOL
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


05/19/2013 12:48 PM  
No new rules needed. If someone wants to be fun and personalize their property with fun temporary items, so be it. You idea that homes should be a sterile environment and have no personalization is very odd. Although I would never buy that stuff, I think its cute when others have a blow up santa on their lawn.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9313


05/19/2013 1:01 PM  
Steve

Reread what Tim posted. The blow up Santas make it for 45 days before Xmas until 15 days after Xmas. It is the "miniture" pink flamingoes I am concerned with.....LOL
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9134


05/19/2013 1:09 PM  
Again this is a PERSONAL taste issue in many cases. What works for one HOA does NOT work for another. A HOA's purpose is to ATTRACT potential buyers. One does not know if buyer's turn away because they have a "Blow up Santa" complex that brings up bad memories.

I used to think those "Garden globes" were tacky item in gardens. Plus some have glares from them. I own one now. My opinion has changed. However, they are a passing fad of garden décor. So that is why maybe restricting them is not such a bad idea. Garden décor does decay and is faddish. How does one ask an owner to remove a fading garden flag or paint chipped pink flamingo from the yard? Unless you have rules on condition and when to call it just plain distracting, you can get quite a mess on your hands.

Oh by the way, I once had a renter who planted "plastic flowers" in the yard. The HOA members nearly had pitch forks and torches in hand to get those removed. If a majority hates it, then you got to do something.

Former HOA President
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9134


05/19/2013 2:11 PM  
I forgot the most important issue. If your HOA provides lawncare and damages a plastic flamingo, who pays? It would be lawncare but most will complain the HOA owes them. So do want to pay for a damaged flamingo with your dues money? That is why yard decor is banned or limitted in many HOA's.

Former HOA President
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9313


05/19/2013 3:01 PM  
Mel

Good point. Our HOA pays for all lawn maintenance so we have never allowed for lawn ornaments. We do pretty much allow what one wants to put in their driveways (typically flower pots against the house) and what one wants to put on their front porch like furniture, flower pots, etc. One home does have one of those globe thingys but it is in the bushes in front of their porch and nothing has been said about it even though our services trims the bushes.

We kind of keep a closed eye unless something is flagrant or complained about. As an example, many have their mail boxes wrapped in a team logo. While our covenants say all mailboxes must be identical, we overlook this type stuff.

We do allow blowup Santas.....LOL



JM10
(California)

Posts:503


05/20/2013 9:20 AM  
Our former HOA allowed everything except us putting up a for sale sign. Be sure to differentiate between commercial signage and non-commercial signage.

We used our non-commercial signage to ask when the board meetings were. This was a winning point for us in small claims court.

Also make sure that you treat all religions equally. So if you allow decor for Christmas be sure you don't take down things for other holidays.

Our board member who was treasurer actually stole our signage. We called the police. He had to give them up. Not sure how he justified lying about not having them or not seeing them and then the signs turn up in his house.

Pretty darn embarrassing.
JohnB26


Posts:0


05/21/2013 8:25 AM  
A HOA's purpose is to ATTRACT potential buyers.


nope ... read your docs

an HOA's purpose is to MAINTAN THE COMMONLY OWNED ELEMENTS

ie; the REQUIRED BY FEDERAL CODE stormwater retention facilities
CarolR11


Posts:0


05/21/2013 9:05 AM  
I think, John26, that Melissa means a developer's main purpose is to attract buyers.

I'm with you, John26: Protecting & maintaining the common elements, but I add paying taxes, for insurance, etc. are an HOA's main purposes.
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