• Oct 19th 2006 at 12:26PM
  • 14
If you want to live green, your homeowner association may get in your way. Columnist Alex Beam of the International Herald Tribune learned that clothes dryers account for as much as 10 percent of home energy use. He seriously considered drying his clothes outside on a clothes line or rack. One Web site suggests that New England residents could save enough energy to close "several power plants" if they used their clothes lines.

Big problem, though. Many homeowner associations don't permit outdoor clothes lines. Beam quotes the president of the California Association of Homeowners Associations who told a legal magazine that a clothes line can lower property values by 15 percent. What absolute dribble!

My next-door neighbor has lived her house since her husband purchased it new in 1950. She has never owned a clothes dryer. In recent years there has been massive gentrification with million-dollar homes springing up on lots all around us. Not once have I heard concern that her weekly routine has lowered the value of her home or any other property in the neighborhood.

Homeowner associations have spawned more mini-dictators than any other element of our society. I truly get outraged when I hear of deliberate intrusions on personal rights. I have a friend who writes for the LA Times, and his association president physically changed the light bulb on his porch because it wasn't the right shade. There are other stories of associations that don't allow homeowers to work on their cars in their own driveway. Some associations don't allow motorcycles or even pickup trucks on the homeowner's property. Some don't even allow basketball backboards or tree houses. And now they dictate how you dry your clothes.

Please, someone show me a comprehensive, independently funded study that concludes that any of the aforementioned household improvements truly brings down the value of a house or a neighbor's house. I don't want a realtor's opinion. I want hard facts over the course of a decade that proves a clothes line lowers the value of a neighbor's house by $50,000 or $60,000. This home-value argument is a complete fascist smokescreen for control freaks. And don't give me the classic argument: if you don't like it you don't have to live there. Every new development that might be affordable to new homeowners is instituting these stupid restrictions. Either you live there or you find a home another hour's drive away from your work. A general set of guidelines to address health concerns and basic upkeep for a neighborhood is okay, but force a homeowner to hang a particular curtain? It's just not right.

At least in Florida, according to Beam, the legislature understands personal freedom and has granted homeowners the right to hang out their underwear. Bravo!

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[Source: International Herald Tribune]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Americans talk about freedom all the time, and now you dont have freedom to hang your clothes in your own property, mmmm think about it, all you say you fight for.... what a bunch of dumb asses!!

      A mexican
      • 8 Years Ago

      A homeowner association is democracy in action. You've got a voice and vote, use it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Here in England we always hang our washing out (despite the uncertainty of the weather). What's the big deal? Washing over here is usually hung in the back garden or yard so not on view to all and sundry and clothes smell so much nicer dried in the fresh air. I've certainly never known property values to be affected by the presence of a washing line. I look forward to spring all winter as I hate drying my clothes on an indoor airer or, when I can afford it, in the dryer. Your HOAs sound like mini dictators! Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely...
      • 8 Years Ago
      Home owner associations are the worst kind of democracy. Many over step privace rights. We are selling our home at this time. There are so many fees and fines in our subdivision that it happens every month. I have been fined for having a car in my drive way,which means I can never have visitors, a dandy lion on my lawn, My trash can left at curb side for more than an hour after the truck has emptied it , which means someone has to be at the house until after the trash truck has left. It's crazy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Brian@7:
      The only homes for sale in the lower price ranges (condos, duplexes, etc) have HOA's. So if all the HOA's do the same thing due to a widely-believed myth, you have to either accept it or pay more for a non-HOA home. I was board member of an HOA in the late 80's. One has to be an activist to keep up with what an HOA is doing. It is much more involving than being an effective citizen in other groups.
      I believe California law requires the same things from HOA-member sellers as Illinois.
      Ben Beauvais
      • 8 Years Ago
      we cant have our gargae open for more than 30 minutes, and can get a $500 fine for having it open too long. Oddly, we can, and do, dry our clothes on a line, but it has to be in out back yard, and behind a privacy fence.

      but our neighbors thought we were the hired help for the first month, so.....
      • 8 Years Ago
      I hate overzealous HOAs as much as anyone, but YOU FREELY DECIDED TO LIVE THERE KNOWING FULL WELL THAT THERE WAS A HOA. Not to mention, that at least here in Illinois, you are allowed to request information from a HOA including upcoming plans, financials, current rules, etc. You can back out of a sales contract within a couple days if they don't respond or if you don't like what you see.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm as much of an environmentalist as the next guy, but I personally wouldn't want to live next to somebody who dries their clothes on their front lawn. It's ugly! Now if they're going to hang their clothes in their backyard where it is not visible to anyone else then that's fine by me. I think some CC&Rs (Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions) within reason can be a very good thing, and can improve the appearance and value of an area. I hate to bring out the slippery-slope argument, but it does apply - if you let people hang their clothes in their lawn then what's next? An army of plastic pink flamingos? Who knows! Anyways, I don't think this is that big of an issue. If you really want to hang your clothes, do it in your bathroom, build a higher fence, or hang your clothes lower to the ground. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that they be kept out of sight.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Where can I get a copy of the regulation that permits outdoor clotheslines in Florida?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Everyone that is buying a new home should carefully check the HOA. We had to reduce the price of our home to get it to sell because of our HOA. Three buyers frankly told us that the HOA was the reason they did not buy.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Hm, I'd think it'd be the other way around. I know I wouldn't pay as much for a house (I probably wouldn't buy it at all) if living there was going to place heavy restrictions on my personal freedoms.
      • 8 Years Ago
      okay so some homeowners cant hang their laundry outside on a line...there are other ways to get around this such as using those dowel drying racks from walmart or a few eye bolts and retractable line kit that canbe used in a bathroom. also most apartment balconies, decks, and patios have privacy enough where you can use these tools there as well. if enough folks get creative and quit whining then housing assoc. etc.. will may not make as much money in their laundry mats etc..
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