Lawmaker aims to prevent HOAs from banning common household chore: ‘You’re not allowed to do it’

In Upper Allen Township, PA, in 2010, Deb and Terry Brensinger joined the ranks of homeowners who have clashed with their HOAs over drying clothes outside, the Patriot-News reported. Now, 13 years later, one state senator is looking to pass legislation to put an end to such debates.

HOAs are often focused on maintaining a tidy and classy look in their neighborhoods. Unfortunately, many HOAs feel that using clotheslines doesn’t fit that aesthetic — even though it saves residents money on their energy bills and protects the planet by reducing electricity use.

Many HOAs and landlords have banned clotheslines — sometimes in the face of state regulations that specifically protect the right to dry laundry outdoors. This case was no different.

The Brensingers used a portable clothesline to dry their laundry for several years before becoming aware of their HOA’s rule against it, The Patriot-News reported. The couple lived in the Witney Ridge development, which had strict rules against everything from trailers to lawn ornaments.

At the time, Pennsylvania was considering a bill that would forbid HOAs and similar organizations from banning clotheslines, The Patriot-News said. However, the measure didn’t pass.

In July 2023, CBS News reported that the same issue had been raised again by Amanda Cappelletti, a state senator determined to give residents the “right to dry.” If this is made law, Pennsylvania would join 20 other states across the U.S. where drying clothing in the sun is a protected activity.

For the Brensingers in 2010, there were fewer options. The Patriot-News reported that the couple started drying their clothing on a wooden rack to skirt HOA restrictions.

Dick Mowery, the president of the Witney Ridge HOA’s board, told The Patriot-News that the rules had to be enforced as written.

“I grew up back in the time when our mothers ran outside in all kinds of weather with wet clothes over their arms and hung them up on the clothesline to dry,” he said. “And I have to admit they smell better. It’s nice to crawl under sheets that have been air-dried. But in Witney Ridge, there’s a restriction. You’re not allowed to do it.”

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