Explosive Situations - Can My Association Restrict Fireworks?

24 Jun 2022

Many of our Fourth of July festivities will include friends and family, barbecues, and fireworks. Although many attend fireworks celebrations hosted in the community, many of us also love smaller-scale fireworks events in our neighborhoods and driveways. This begs, the question: what can and can't our Homeowners' Association restrict regarding fireworks this upcoming Fourth of July?

Although your HOA can generally restrict the use of fireworks throughout the year, if the Governing Documents so provide, F.S. Chap. 791, Sale of Fireworks, and specifically F.S. § 791.08, prohibits homeowners associations from restricting fireworks on the following designated holidays from the privately-owned lot or other parcel of an owner within a recorded-covenant community –

New Year's Day, January 1st;
Independence Day, July 4th; or
New Year's Eve, December 31st.

Notably, this statute does not allow residents or guests to light fireworks or allow debris to accumulate, on Association common areas. Associations can still prohibit unauthorized use of those areas, even during these designated holidays. As a homeowner, it's best to confirm with your HOA (and specifically, its governing documents) that your festivities will not violate any pre-recorded covenants or rules and regulations, regardless of the holiday, bearing in mind the above limitations on the associations’ governance.

We suggest that any fireworks-related restrictions by homeowners associations be limited with respect to designated holidays, subject to the following guidelines. Specifically, they should be: (i) established by properly approved and recorded amendment to the Association's Declaration; (ii) limited to prohibiting only the discharge of fireworks from the Association's Common Areas or other Association-owned property; and, (iii) worded so as to clearly not seek to restrict, prohibit, or otherwise restrain Owners from discharging fireworks on the designated holidays from an owner's property. In no way and in no manner should the Association seek to restrict the discharge of fireworks by unpublished rules or regulations, or on a non-common area lot/parcel.

Presuming that residents are permitted to discharge fireworks within your community, and notwithstanding any legal permission, it is common courtesy to notify neighbors before setting off fireworks. Although fireworks are a popular festivity during the 4th of July weekend, not everyone finds these activities joyful. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and many of our family pets find the stress of fireworks overwhelming and traumatic. Verifying that everyone's celebrations this holiday are stress-free is an excellent, neighborly way to look out for the health and wellbeing of your community.

For those concerned about the effects of fireworks on veterans, see VA guidance (here) or on pets; see American Kennel Club guidance (here).

Of course, before using fireworks this 4th of July, please follow all local safety guidelines, as well.

We at Clayton & McCulloh P.A. wish you a safe, fun-filled 4th of July!