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Tenant questions apartment lease clause prohibiting common household chore: 'How would they even stop you?'

"I just don't understand."

"I just don't understand."

Photo Credit: iStock

Many of us live in an apartment complex with dingy, coin-operated washing and drying machines. When that's the case, we may be inclined to get creative with how we clean our clothes. 

But what if that's not allowed?

A Redditor took to r/legaladvicecanada to share a puzzling laundry clause from their lease that they say they've always been curious about.  

"It specifically states: 'Clotheslines: Under no circumstances shall any clotheslines or clothes drying equipment be placed on or about the leased premises or the lands on which the leased premises is situated,'" they explained in their post

"Now, I can understand not being allowed to put up a clothesline, but no clothes-drying equipment at all?" they continued. "I just don't understand how or why they should be able to tell me that I can't hang my socks on a rack, considering it doesn't pose any risk of damage to the apartment? 

"I owned a drying rack before moving in that I have continued using occasionally since then despite this clause in the lease, but if they were to somehow find out about this, would they actually be able to take any action against me?"

Though this particular Redditor hails from Canada, many landlords and HOAs across the United States have also been caught preventing renters from adopting money-saving and eco-friendly lifestyle changes, including but not limited to gardening and hanging clotheslines to dry their laundry

Fortunately, for the 74 million people in the U.S. who live in areas governed by an HOA, there are ways to operate within restrictions or work with landlords to change established rules or standard practices. These efforts can make tangible progress for both your home and your community.  

Many Redditors took to the comments of this post to give this tenant advice about their own situation. Most agreed that it would be perfectly fine to continue using the drying rack, as long as it was not causing any damage to the property. 

"I had this in a lease many years ago and when I asked the landlord to explain the reasoning, they said it was due to by-laws in the city. Some cities do not allow for clothes lines within their by-laws which I suspect might be the case here," one person said. "I told the landlord I would use a drying rack indoors and he said that was perfectly fine, we just were not allowed to hang dry clothes from the balcony or on the property."

"I'm willing to bet they just worded it oddly and it means in the common areas / yard," one person commented (and indeed, the wording says "on or about the leased premises" rather than "in," which leaves room for interpreting it only means the exterior). "How would they even stop you anyway?"

Even then, many states and other governments around the world have "right to dry" laws, which prevent bans like the one in this lease agreement, even if it's understandable for a landlord to ask tenants not to install anything attached to the building. Beyond a matter of freedom, enabling and encouraging the practice of air-drying clothes saves energy and money, which usually trumps aesthetics in the end. 

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