Check with condo board before decking halls

Toronto real estate lawyer Lisa Laredo advises condo owners to check with their boards on the guidelines for holiday adornments before stringing up lights and holiday decorations.

Toronto has hundreds of high-rise condominium complexes housing thousands of people from diverse backgrounds, and condominium corporations have to cater to all, making it impractical to acknowledge every holiday, she tells

“Given the multicultural nature of our urban society, the trend is to do less so as not to offend, but depending on the demographics of the building, certain special days may stand out such as Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah or Ramadan. Any acknowledgment should be done in a low-key manner that doesn’t offend residents for whom these occasions have no special or inherent meaning,” suggests Laredo, principal of Laredo Law.

While there are legitimate arguments on both sides of the holiday decorating debate, it’s the board’s job to balance the concerns and decide on the best approach, she adds, noting that some condo boards levy fines if residents don’t comply with the rules.

“The biggest challenge facing many boards around the holidays is simply deciding which ones to celebrate and how to do so while keeping expenses to a minimum,” Laredo says.

Whether it’s a high-rise tower or a suburban development, she advises boards to approach holiday decorating like they do any other element of governance: with fairness, consistency and community well-being in mind.

“Holiday best wishes may be noted in internal newsletters or by cultural displays in the lobby or exterior of the building as long as it is respectful of others, and the message spreads kindness to one another,” she says.