Homeowners Associations (“HOA”) in many states, including Georgia, are given broad discretion in their decision-making processes. This broad discretion has frequently led to many HOAs coming up with strict and sometimes silly rules. Consider the ban against clotheslines.
For years now, a common trend of HOAs across the country has been to ban “solar drying”—in other words, imposing bans on the use of clotheslines for drying clothes.
This old-time method of drying clothes is seeing a resurgence because of its “eco-friendly” and money-saving properties. But most HOAs don’t see it that way. When it comes to homeowners hanging clothes out to dry, most HOAs simply won’t allow it.
The “Right-to-dry” Movement
The power of HOAs to regulate air-drying is being challenged in a number of states. What is being called a “right-to-dry” movement has sprung up and has resulted in laws allowing homeowners to use clotheslines in 6 states so far: Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont. (How the clothes don’t just freeze instead of drying in Colorado, Maine, and Vermont, we don’t know.)
Another 13 states have proposed “solar drying” or “solar access” laws.
In states where solar protection laws exist, anti-clothesline additions to the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) are unenforceable. But that doesn’t mean that the HOAs always follow the law.
Solar Rights Laws
While clothes drying may not be a critical issue, an HOA’s refusing to allow solar panels can be.
Despite passage of the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015 in Georgia, many HOAs continue to ban solar panels—even though their CC & Rs and design guidelines expressly allow solar panels (subject to the architectural committee approval).
This approach hurts those residents who want solar panels. It also keeps communities from lowering their electric bills because the HOAs won’t install solar panels on community property which could reduce the electric bills that are passed on to all the residents.
HOAs have broad authority to make decisions that benefit the communities they govern. But that does not mean they can simply “ban” anything and everything. Their powers don’t extend that far and the law does not favor restrictions on the lawful use of land. Further, HOA committees are required to act in a “fair and reasonable” manner. Again, this is not always the case, which can lead to litigation.
Solar power and the right to “solar drying” are issues that have things heating up when it comes to HOAs.
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