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Homeowners: New Law on Turf

Bryan Zuetel

Due to California’s ongoing drought and in an effort to address the effects of the drought, the California Legislature has passed a series of laws affecting property and homeowners.  One such law that went into effect on September 4, 2015 makes void and unenforceable any homeowner association rules or regulations that prohibit artificial turf.  Specifically, Civil Code section 4735 makes void and unenforceable any common interest development or homeowner association’s governing documents (CC&R’s) or architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibit the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.

You can view the law and the legislative notes here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2100.

The Legislature passed this law as “an urgency statute” necessary “to conserve water during California’s historic drought” and to encourage homeowners “who conserve water by watering their lawns less often.”  However, homeowners should be warned that although this code section currently makes void and unenforceable rules or regulations that prohibit artificial turf or synthetic surfaces, the Legislature could repeal this law when California likely exits the drought.  If the Legislature does repeal this law in the future, the CC&R’s or other governing documents would then spring back into effect and could prohibit artificial turf or other synthetic surfaces at homes and properties under the jurisdiction of the homeowners association.