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Homeowner furious with HOA fining residents over harmless weed: ‘Are there any legal precedents?’

“Some states have passed laws that forbid or severely limit what HOAs can do…”

“Some states have passed laws that forbid or severely limit what HOAs can do..."

Photo Credit: iStock

Homeowners associations have been under fire for needlessly strict laws that are making life difficult for local residents. 

One Washington State resident took to Reddit to explain how their HOA has been doling out fines for the most minimal of infractions. 

“My current HOA likes to fine people for just having dandelions,” they said. “Are there any legal precedents of individuals forcing HOAs to allow homeowners to ditch the ‘traditional’ lawn care rules in favor of more natural lawns?”

It’s undoubtedly an extreme action to take regarding a weed that, while prevalent, doesn’t actually cause a lot of problems. 

The comment section jumped into action to provide some advice.

“Some states have passed laws that forbid or severely limit what HOAs can do [with regards to] native lawns,” one Redditor noted

Meanwhile, another pointed to section 64.38.057(1) of the Revised Code of Washington laws under HOAs, which says that governing documents “may not prohibit the installation of drought resistant landscaping or wildfire ignition resistant landscaping.”

“It might give you an out, but you’ll probably have to get in a fight if you go that route,” they added

Since dandelions are drought tolerant, they may fall under the umbrella of “resistant landscaping.”

According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, 74.2 million people lived under HOAs or similar community associations in 2021, so similar disputes are more than likely to occur elsewhere.

However, there are ways to encourage HOAs to modify some rules for the benefit of residents. This helpful HOA guide details a number of ways in which homeowners can try to enact positive change. It even includes a letter template that will help you start a conversation to persuade the organization to make changes, such as allowing the installation of solar panels or to let residents plant native plants or drought-resistant lawns. 

Attending HOA meetings or researching local and state laws is a great start to understanding just why certain rules are implemented, and providing plenty of evidence as to why they should be changed will undoubtedly help your cause. 

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