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Drought emergency restricts HOA rule enforcement

On Behalf of | May 27, 2022 | HOA Disputes

It is common for homeowners associations to have rules about the proper upkeep of property that homeowners must follow. However, because of the Davis-Stirling Act, HOAs may not be able to legally enforce some of these rules during a drought emergency.

Which common HOA rules are impacted?

The Davis-Stirling Act

Civil code section 4735 of the Davis-Stirling Act prevents HOAs from prohibiting homeowners from planting low water-using plants or installing artificial turf. Subpart c of the statute also makes it illegal for HOAs to penalize homeowners who do not water their lawns during a declared drought emergency.

Section 4736 makes it illegal for HOAs to require homeowners to pressure wash the exterior of their homes during a declared drought emergency.

What HOAs can do

HOAs still have the right to maintain standards of appearance during a drought emergency. However, they must do so within the legal framework of the Act. It may be beneficial to evaluate landscaping choices and irrigation systems to determine ways to maintain the appearance of the property while reducing water usage.

If you are utilizing automatic sprinkler systems for watering, consider switching to manual watering. Manual watering wastes less water and your landscaping crew can adjust the watering schedule to strike a better balance between maintaining the appearance of the property and conserving water.

If your association currently does not utilize individual water meters for residents, consider changing your governing documents to allow you to bill individual homeowners for water usage. When homeowners must pay their water bills, they are more motivated to conserve water.

HOAs that wish to maintain the appearance of the property while complying with the law must be proactive in finding ways to maintain property without wasting water.