What the end of the emergency drought means to HOAs
Civil Code 4735(c) prohibited associations from fining or assessing an owner who let their yard “go brown” by not watering it during a declared state of drought emergency.
Under Civil 4735(a)(2) associations may not ban artificial turf, even after the drought emergency has ended.
Many association boards and managers may be misled by the end of the drought emergency, believing incorrectly that associations can now direct homeowners to remove the modifications made to landscaping in order to conserve water.
However, per Civil Code 4735(e), owners who have installed water-efficient landscaping measures cannot be required to remove them, even after the drought emergency.
So, for example, associations may not force residents to remove artificial turf installed during the drought emergency.
Furthermore, the right to install xeriscapes (low water-using plants) or artificial turf still is in place under Civil Code 4735(a).
As Governor Brown urged in his Executive Order, California residents should continue “maintaining conservation as a way of life.” Much of California is not naturally rich in fresh water resources, and wise property owners and associations will continue to be conservative with the use of water.
Common interest development associations (aka “HOAs”) should have architectural rules in place already to make sure that xeriscapes or artificial turf yards are presentable and an asset to the community.
The emergency-related provisions of Civil Code Sections 4735 and 4736 were not removed from the law.
The next time a state drought emergency is declared, the laws will again apply to California homeowners associations.