Wuetcher initially applied to install the line behind her Venice, Florida, home in 2018. The Verona Reserve Homeowners Association initially granted the request.
But after Wuetcher started using the line, the HOA sent her a notice saying that she was in violation because the clothesline was visible from the street. To keep it out of sight, Wuetcher would need to move it closer to her home — where the building would block the sunlight and where wind-blown clothes would touch the siding and get dirty.
For every day Wuetcher refused to move the clothesline, the HOA fined her $100, quickly reaching the maximum allowed fine of $2,500.
“I never realized this was a possibility,” another says.
HOAs in the U.S. often have the capability to ban home modifications that don’t fit the desired appearance of the neighborhood. However, as Wuetcher’s lawyer James Potts Sr. pointed out, the Verona Reserve HOA didn’t have a specific rule against visible clotheslines.
“[The HOA] have not properly referenced, or put us on notice, precisely which covenant or which bylaw we have broken,” he said. He also stated that Wuetcher had a legal right to put her clothesline “in the place where it’s most efficient, where you can make the most use of the sun.”
Wuetcher isn’t the first to have trouble with an HOA about eco-friendly home upgrades. One homeowner says they forced an HOA to back down after showing them the exact state law they were breaking by restricting the use of solar panels. Another isn’t sure how to proceed after a similar refusal.
Challenging these decisions often requires legal action — but many states have laws in place to protect homeowners’ efforts to be environmentally friendly. In some cases, challenging an HOA even leads to a change in the law, like when a Maryland couple went to court to defend their yard’s native flowers.
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