From the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb
California law now limits a community association’s ability to restrict the use of clotheslines and drying racks. Effective January 1, 2017, Civil Code 4750.10 invalidates any provision of a governing document that effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts an owner’s ability to use a clothesline or drying rack in their backyard. This law reflects California’s tendency toward energy conscious legislation, and in fact, the law originally referred to clotheslines as “solar energy systems.”
As applied to community associations, the new law has some important limitations. For example, it only protects an owner’s ability to use a clothesline in a backyard designated for exclusive use. So, the law does not sanction an owner’s ability to use clotheslines in other areas, such as their front yard or a shared rear yard. Further, the law explicitly states a balcony, railing, awning, or other part of a structure or building does not qualify as a clothesline. So, the new law does not protect owners who string wet clothes over their balcony railing to dry.
Even where a backyard clothesline is concerned, an association may establish reasonable restrictions on the use of clotheslines and drying racks. A restriction is reasonable if does not significantly increase the cost of using a clothesline or drying rack. As the cost of a clothesline or drying rack is generally low, and the law does not provide any guidance on what constitutes a “significant increase” in cost, this may become an issue. As it stands, associations should take note that any prohibition or unreasonable restriction concerning the use of a clothesline or drying rack in an owner’s backyard (exclusive use or their property) is no longer enforceable.
Questions? Contact SwedelsonGottlieb 800-372-2207