As the holiday season rapidly approaches, it brings with it a sense of joy, unity, and festivity. For condominium residents, decorating their units and common areas is a cherished tradition. However, members of the Board, as well as condominium managers have a responsibility to ensure that holiday decorations are not only festive but also compliant with the relevant rules, by-laws, and regulations. In this blog, we will explore the dos and don’ts of condo holiday decorations, ensuring your celebrations are both inclusive and festive, while complying with the laws that govern condominiums.
When it comes to holiday decorations in condominiums, the first and foremost step is to refer to the Declaration. The Declaration, also known as the condo’s governing document, outlines the rules, regulations, and by-laws that residents and the Board of Directors must adhere to. It serves as a legal framework that governs various aspects of condo living, including the decoration of common elements and individual units during the holiday season.
In Ontario, the Condominium Act of 1998, serves as the cornerstone of governance. Section 98 of the Condominium Act, 1998, is particularly relevant when it comes to condo holiday decorations. It governs any actual alterations to the common elements and raises critical considerations for unit owners, board members, and property managers.
One common misconception is that temporary holiday decorations, such as hanging lights or wreaths, do not constitute alterations subject to Section 98 of the Act. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Rules regarding decorations can apply to common elements, whether under exclusive use or not, and even within the owner’s unit itself, particularly if the decorations are visible externally.
When establishing policies and rules regarding condo holiday decorations, the safety and liability of all residents should be of concern. Some decorations may pose fire risks, potential property damage, or even physical injury. Such issues can not only pose insurance risks for the condominium corporation but also personal risks for homeowners.
Additionally, minor holiday decorations affixed to common elements can inadvertently lead to unexpected repair and maintenance costs. The use of electricity for decorations, particularly if on a common meter, should also be considered to avoid additional expenses. Lastly, there’s the matter of nuisance; not all residents may welcome exuberant decorations, and ensuring inclusivity within the community is always important.
One of the most key considerations when decorating your condominium for the holidays is to avoid using religious themes. While personal religious expression is a fundamental right, condo communities must balance individual freedoms with maintaining a neutral, inclusive environment. This is particularly important in shared spaces and common areas.
The Condominium Act of Ontario and many condo by-laws emphasize the need for inclusivity and non-discrimination within condo communities. Decorating with religious symbols can alienate some residents and lead to disputes. To maintain an inclusive living environment, it’s advisable to steer clear of overtly religious décor in shared spaces.
Secular Symbols: Opt for secular holiday symbols that are universally recognized and inclusive, such as snowflakes, stars, ornaments, wreaths, and twinkling lights. These symbols convey the festive spirit without affiliating with any particular religious tradition.
Avoid Religious Symbols: Steer clear of decorations featuring religious symbols or iconography. This includes nativity scenes, crosses, menorahs, and any religious text. These items can be seen as exclusive and may cause discomfort for some residents.
Respect Diversity: Condominiums are often home to residents from diverse backgrounds and faiths. Ensure that your condo holiday decorations choices respect this diversity and do not make any resident feel unwelcome or excluded.
However, residents are allowed to decorate their own units as they see fit, provided it does not disrupt the peaceful enjoyment of other residents or violate any specific rules outlined in the declaration and/or condo by-laws.
In addition to decorations, holiday messaging is another area where inclusivity and neutrality should be prioritized. When communicating holiday greetings or announcements, consider the following:
Use non-denominational holiday greetings such as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” These phrases are inclusive and do not favour any specific religious holiday.
Ensure that any written communication, whether in newsletters, emails, or notices, uses inclusive language that welcomes all residents to celebrate the holiday season in their own way.
Be mindful of the timing of holiday announcements. Ensure that they are made well in advance, allowing residents ample time to prepare and participate if they choose to do so.
In today’s diverse and multicultural society, the significance of inclusive holiday decorations cannot be overstated. At CityTowers Management Inc., we recognize the importance of striking a balance that allows everyone to celebrate their traditions while fostering a sense of togetherness. Many condominium communities, like yours, grapple with the challenge of ensuring that holiday décor embraces the richness of various cultures without unintentionally excluding or offending anyone.
To achieve this balance, we encourage condo boards to engage the community in the holiday decoration planning process. By inviting contributions and ideas from residents of different backgrounds, we ensure that every voice is heard and respected. Those who wish to participate can shape the décor to reflect their cultural heritage, while others can choose not to be involved, avoiding any discomfort.
CityTowers Property Management Inc. is committed to crafting a holiday decorating plan that embodies the spirit of inclusivity. We offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to your condo corporation’s unique needs, guaranteeing a festive yet neutral common area décor that welcomes and acknowledges all residents. Let us help you create an atmosphere of unity and celebration this holiday season.
Promoting inclusivity during the holidays as a resident in a condominium is a commendable initiative, fostering a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all. To begin, familiarize yourself with your condominium's Declaration and by-laws, as these documents often contain essential guidelines concerning holiday decorations and inclusivity. It is of utmost importance to respect and abide by the rules set forth by your condominium corporation regarding holiday decorations. This entails refraining from the use of overtly religious symbols in shared spaces, aligning with the overarching focus on inclusivity.
Furthermore, actively engage in open and respectful communication with your fellow residents to promote understanding and consideration of diverse perspectives and traditions. Embrace opportunities to participate in community decorating events aimed at crafting a neutral yet festive ambiance using decorations that embody universal themes such as joy, peace, and unity. When decorating your individual unit, exercise mindfulness regarding the potential impact on your neighbours, ensuring that your decorations do not disrupt their peaceful enjoyment of their homes. Additionally, celebrate the rich cultural diversity within your condominium community by acknowledging and respecting various holidays and traditions. Consider organizing events that highlight these cultural differences, ultimately nurturing a profound sense of unity and inclusivity among residents.
When it comes to decorating your condominium for the holidays, there are several creative ideas that can infuse festive cheer while adhering to your condominium’s regulations.
Here are some ideas for neutral yet festive holiday decorations:
Winter Wonderland: Transform common areas into enchanting winter wonderlands with snowflakes, icicles, and sparkling lights. This theme brings a magical, non-religious ambiance to shared spaces.
Festive Foliage: Incorporate seasonal greenery like wreaths, garlands, and poinsettias. These symbols of renewal and prosperity are universally appreciated and devoid of religious connotations.
Holiday Colours: Use classic holiday colours such as red, green, gold, and silver to create a festive atmosphere without relying on religious symbolism.
Multicultural Celebrations: Embrace diversity by including decorations from various cultural traditions within your condominium community. Consider elements like Hanukkah candles, Diwali lights, or Chinese New Year lanterns to celebrate different holidays.
These decoration ideas strike a balance between festivity and inclusivity, ensuring that all residents can enjoy a warm and welcoming holiday atmosphere within the condominium community, while adhering to local regulations and guidelines.
Yes, there can be restrictions on specific holiday decorations within a condominium, and these restrictions are often outlined in the condominium's governing documents, such as the Declaration and by-laws.
One common restriction is the avoidance of overtly religious symbols in shared spaces. This is to ensure that all residents, regardless of their religious beliefs, feel welcome and comfortable in common areas. While residents often have the freedom to decorate their individual units as they see fit, restrictions may still apply if these decorations disrupt the peaceful enjoyment of neighbouring units or violate any specific rules set forth in the condominium's governing documents.
To ensure compliance, it is recommended for residents to review their condominium's rules and regulations regarding holiday decorations, as well as consult resources from organizations like the Condominium Institute of Ontario for guidance. This way, residents can strike a balance between festive expression and adherence to the rules, ultimately promoting a festive yet inclusive holiday season within the condominium community.
Director of Business Development and Client Relations