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Homeowner questions whether HOAs could be barred from enforcing yard maintenance with latest water restrictions: 'Raise this issue at your next meeting'

"HOAs … will have to open up their rules."

"HOAs ... will have to open up their rules."

Photo Credit: iStock

New water restrictions could cause some trouble for HOAs.

A Redditor on r/Omaha asked an interesting question about HOA requirements under Nebraska's water restrictions. 

The user asked, "With MUD calling for water restrictions, and HOA calling for lawns that require lots of water, has anyone heard of any court cases or lawsuits pending to make it illegal for HOAs to require specific lawn types or lawns at all?"

🗣️ If you have a lawn, what aspect of it do you value most?

🔘 The way it looks 🤩

🔘 The way my family uses it 👪

🔘 It's enjoyable to mow 😎

🔘 It's cheap to maintain 💰

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

The Metropolitan Utilities District, also known as MUD, has voluntary guidelines for Nebraska residents to help cut down on water usage. Guidelines, which can vary by city, include small tips — like only running your dishwasher when it's completely full — to strict lawn watering schedules.

For Omaha residents like the Redditor, even-numbered addresses water their lawns on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday or Sunday, and odd-numbered addresses water their lawns on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Lawns should not be watered two days in a row and should be watered in the early morning. 

Under regular circumstances, these water conservation guidelines are voluntary and there is no penalty to the homeowner for ignoring them. However, if water consumption is meeting or exceeding capacity, then stricter, mandatory requirements will become enforced to lower consumption. Penalties include fines and having your water shut off.

So, if your lawn isn't meeting your HOA's standards, what can you do? The Reddit comments reassured the user that MUD takes priority over your HOA.

"An HOA cannot require you to break the law or incur civil penalties. It's in your CC&Rs somewhere," one user commented. "Raise this issue at your next meeting."

"HOAs are civil contracts, and I would assume … that municipal/public health/or other government mandates override and supersede them. HOAs, especially now that the full brunt of climate change is staring us [in] the face, will have to open up their rules to allow low water lawns," another said.

Whether they're banning bikes, enforcing monoculture lawns, or illegally cutting down trees, HOAs repeatedly restrict homeowners from making upgrades that would be better for the homeowner and the environment. One HOA even went as far as stopping a contractor from installing solar panels — in the middle of the installation. 

If you're in an HOA and are struggling with making eco-friendly upgrades, check out our guide for everything you need to fight back.

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