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HOAs can impose restrictions on homeowners collecting rainwater

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | HOA Law |

In states like Texas, residents have the right to collect rainwater in their own backyards. There are no federal laws preventing homeowners from doing so. However, the situation can be different when it comes to homeowners’ associations (HOAs). When harvesting rainwater, HOAs have the authority to impose certain restrictions.

By law, they can regulate these systems per the community’s standards and aesthetics.

What associations cannot restrict

HOAs often establish rules to maintain their neighborhoods’ aesthetics and property values. However, in Texas, there are some freedoms that HOAs must allow, such as rainwater harvesting. Under state laws, an association cannot prevent homeowners from installing rainwater harvesting devices. These devices can include above-ground rain barrels or other types of rainwater systems. Because droughts are common in Southeast Texas, these systems can be very valuable. For example, these systems can be an effective way for residents to conserve water. As a resource, water becomes increasingly precious to homeowners due to frequent droughts. So, these systems can be critical to residents looking for ways to be more water-efficient.

Preventing homeowners from installing these systems could potentially violate state laws and infringe on homeowners’ rights.

What they can legally restrict

Although they can’t outright ban them, HOAs do have some control over rainwater harvesting systems. They can set rules about:

  • The size, type, and construction materials of the rain barrel or system
  • The color or content displayed on it
  • The system’s shielding or protection methods
  • Where the system is installed, especially if it’s visible from a street, another lot, a common area or on land owned by the HOA or all members

Such restrictions actively maintain a consistent and pleasing look throughout the community. These, in turn, help preserve the community’s high value.

Limitations by the homeowner’s association

HOAs have the legal right to regulate rainwater systems, but they must also consider the community’s shared aesthetic vision and preferences. They should not, however, enact regulations that infringe upon homeowners’ rights to harvest rainwater. Particularly when there’s enough space on a homeowner’s property, HOAs should permit the installation of these systems.

Understanding the fine line between what can and cannot be restricted within their community is crucial for HOAs. To navigate these complexities, they should consider seeking help from a legal professional to better understand these restrictions.