Halloween in Condos: It Doesn't Need to be Frightening?!?
Yes, it is a bit early for this topic, but I love everything about Autumn, including Halloween! If you have any Halloween enthusiasts in your complex you'll likely see the decorations out in the next few weeks (if your rules allow decorations) so it may be a relevant topic sooner than you think. Halloween can cause all kinds of headaches for boards and managers in condominiums. There are safety and security concerns with young children going door-to-door and running around on the property. Maybe you have rules prohibiting decorations. Maybe you have a very diverse group of residents with different ideas about Halloween. Maybe you've had issues with vandalism in the past on the day before Halloween (sometimes called "Devil's Night" or "Mischief Night"). Whatever the issue, Halloween in your condominium doesn't need to be frightening for the board or manager. Halloween, like other holidays and celebrations, can mean different things to different people. The best way to make sure everyone is on the same page is to have guidelines (i.e. rules) that explain the expectations of all residents. Will decorations be permitted on the units or common elements? If yes, how many? For how long? Can they be affixed to the doors? What about the balconies? The windows? These are issues that should be clearly set out in the rules to prevent damage to the property or annoyance to the other residents. Another big issue in condominiums with Halloween is trick-or-treating. With townhouses or single detached units trick-or-treating is similar to traditional subdivisions - if you want to participate you decorate (i.e. lights, pumpkins) so children know that you are offering treats and if you don't want to participate you keep the house dark. With apartment condominiums the issue is a bit trickier. Some owners have chosen an apartment style for the extra security afforded by a secure main entry. Permitting strangers to enter the building on Halloween can be a real concern for these owners. A solution that I've seen work well in many buildings is to restrict trick-or-treating to occupants of the units (and sometimes their grandchildren or friends). Others permit trick-or-treating only at the security/concierge desk. In apartment condominiums how do residents indicate that they don't want to participate so they don't end up with people knocking on their door all night? In one condominium I know of one of the directors (who happens to be an avid scrapbooker) made cute little cutouts (i.e. witches, pumpkins) for owners to place on their doorknobs so the children know that they are offering treats. If they didn't want to participate they didn't hang anything on their doorknob. The cutouts were left in the lobby for residents to pick up if they were interested in participating. Some condominiums even hold Halloween parties on the common elements. Like any celebration hosted or sanctioned by the condominium you need to be careful about permitting or serving alcohol; ensuring proper food safety; supervising employees or contractors; and protecting the property from damage. Parties can be a great way to improve the community, but you need to make sure you have the proper people, procedures, and insurance in place! Lastly, reminding the residents of the rules regarding Halloween (or any holiday or celebration for that matter) is always a good idea. You could send them notices in a newsletter, post it on a bulletin board, or put a notice up on the condominium's website. However you do it, just be sure you do it.