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Homeowner uncovers truth about controversial HOA laundry rule: 'It seems like a stretch'

Sadly, HOAs are sometimes out of the loop and have unlawful restrictions.

Sadly, HOAs are sometimes out of the loop and have unlawful restrictions.

Photo Credit: iStock

One Virginia homeowner with a balanced perspective on clotheslines was surprised to find what a divisive issue they could be among homeowners association members. 

"Clotheslines are apparently controversial. I had no idea," they said. "Has anyone heard of anything where an HOA has been forced to allow clotheslines because of 'solar collection' laws?"

According to the Redditor, they had good reason to ask. "I'm in the middle of trying to propose some environmentally friendly updates to our guidelines," they said. "I have asked for neighbor feedback and what I'm hearing is that people value their visual aesthetic over energy saving."

That was surprising to the original poster, who had a different set of priorities. "I am for them; I think we as a society need to make some compromises in order to stop killing our planet," they explained. "I'm not trying to do anything crazy; I personally would like to have the option."

Clotheslines are an energy-efficient, money-saving way to dry clothes. Instead of using electricity like a traditional dryer or fuel like a gas-powered one, they simply use the sun and the free-flowing outdoor air. Clothes dried this way smell fresher, last longer without the tumbling action of a dryer, have fewer wrinkles, and can even be lightly disinfected by the sun's powerful rays.

The benefit to the environment is huge, too. The energy savings means less air pollution to increase the Earth's temperature.

But HOAs are known for policing the appearance of their neighborhoods, and many object to clotheslines, in addition to other eco-friendly upgrades like solar panels and native lawns

Luckily, the law is on the side of line-drying in many states. "There are a bunch of articles floating around about 'right to dry states' with links leading to statutes about solar collection rights," said the puzzled original poster. "It seems like a stretch to say that an HOA can't restrict clotheslines based on verbiage about 'solar collection.'"

But as it turns out, that's exactly what those laws mean. "Clotheslines are, under Virginia's statutory definition, a solar collection device: 'any device manufactured and sold for the sole purpose of facilitating the collection and beneficial use of solar energy,'" one commenter explained. "A clothesline is expressly manufactured to facilitate the beneficial use of solar energy for drying clothes."

Sadly, HOAs are sometimes out of the loop and have unlawful restrictions on clotheslines. Here's how you can change those rules.

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