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Petty landlord's attempt to evict tenants for doing their laundry leads to new state law: 'If only everyone would use it'

"We need this."

Paragon attempted to evict tenants over laundry habits

Photo Credit: iStock

In 2015, a property management company called Paragon Real Estate Group tried to evict two dozen tenants from a single-room occupancy hotel in San Francisco for hanging laundry outside the building, Grist reported. The same year, AB 1448 passed, protecting the right of all Californians to hang their laundry outdoors, no matter what any landlord or HOA says.

Prior to 2015, California already had laws explicitly protecting the "right to dry," according to Grist. However, that right didn't extend to tenants in multi-family buildings and trailer parks, as well as anyone living in an HOA. In those cases, the management had the power to forbid hanging up clothes, which is exactly what Paragon did.

Tenants continued drying their laundry outside windows and on fire escapes, as they'd always done before Paragon bought the building in 2013, Grist reported. So the company started handing out eviction notices. The tenants responded with a protest, waving T-shirts that said, "Hanging laundry is not a crime."

At the same time, Grist reported that Laura Shafer had spent the last several years pushing for an update to state law to protect the right to dry clothing outdoors for all residents. With her help, Patty López, a member of the California State Assembly, introduced AB 1448.

Existing laws in Vermont and New Hampshire protected all solar devices, including solar panels, water heaters, and clotheslines, Grist explained. AB 1448 made California's laundry laws similar and now applies to all residents of the state, including renters and those living in HOAs, so long as they meet certain requirements, such as not interfering with "reasonable rules," safety, and maintenance. 

The move aimed to save residents a lot of money, as California's sunny climate provides plenty of free energy for drying clothes and powering solar panels. Meanwhile, cutting down on electricity use from other sources helps reduce pollution.

According to the California Legislature, the bill passed in October 2015 and took effect in 2016.

"It's getting hotter and drier in California. We need this," Shafer told Grist. "The clothesline is such a lovely little appliance. If only everyone would use it."

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