Thursday, January 28, 2010

Virginia General Assembly: Homeowners' Associations and Clotheslines

As we wrote about in a post last November (here), homeowners' associations often play a significant role in regulating what people can and cannot do with and on their property.

The Code of Virginia includes a number of provisions (though not as many as you might expect) that govern the relative rights of the associations and their members.

In the current General Assembly session, State Senator Linda Puller (Democrat - Fairfax) wants to restrict one aspect of association govenance: Puller is the sponsor of Senate Bill 221, which would prohibit associations from establishing outright bans against the use of "natural drying devices" (in common parlance, clotheslines and the like). Associations would be permitted to establish reasonable restrictions on the use of the devices.

You can read the entire text of SB 221 on the Legislative Information Website, here. It reads, in part:

Effective July 1, 2010, no community association shall prohibit an owner from installing or using a natural drying device on that owner's property. However, a community association may establish reasonable restrictions concerning the size, placement, and manner of placement of such natural drying device.

It is not uncommon to hear clients complain about their association being either too intrusive or not intrusive enough in terms of regulating their -- and their neighbors' -- rights. It can certainly be a difficult line to draw, as neighbors try to be good neighbors but also express their own preferences for what is or is not reasonable.


It will be interesting to see whether Senator Puller's bill makes it through the House of Delegates; it passed the Senate by a vote of 37-3. Perhaps granting a glimpse into his political philosophy (or just a glimpse into his attitude about natural drying devices?), potential 5th District Congressional candidate Robert Hurt was one of the three Senators to vote against Senator Puller's legislation.

Have you done your laundry today?