HOA Holiday Lights Ruling Overturned

By Laura Otto
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Homeowners in one Virginia community association are allowed to display string lights year-round after the state supreme court ruled that the community’s holiday light guidelines were unenforceable.

In 2013, the Belmont Glen Homeowners Association in Ashburn, Va., began fining a family that displayed a string of lights on their front door and on their back-deck railing to celebrate Hindu, Sindhi, and Sikh religious holidays throughout the year, according to WTOP

A Loudoun County circuit court ruled in favor of the association in 2018, siding with the community’s claim that it had a responsibility to preserve and protect property values and that meant adhering to the associations covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).

Earlier this week, Virginia’s highest court ruled that the HOA’s CC&Rs didn’t adequately specify the conditions in which the lights violated the association’s rules and, therefore, the rules were unenforceable.  

Kenneth E. Chadwick, shareholder and founding member of Chadwick, Washington, Moriarty, Elmore & Bunn, P.C., in Fairfax, Va., and a fellow in CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers, weighs in on what this ruling means for how associations interpret and enforce exterior home guidelines going forward.

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Laura Otto

Laura Otto is editor of CAI’s award-winning Community Manager. A seasoned journalist, Laura previously worked for a creative, advocacy agency in Washington, D.C., where she wrote and edited content for a variety of public health clients. Prior to that, Laura served as a senior writer and editor for the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Laura is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.