Recently, Florida enacted a significant new law impacting homeowners in HOA (Homeowners Association) communities. This law, which is now active, significantly changes how homeowners can use their backyards, particularly regarding the storage, installation, and display of various items.
This change is encapsulated in Florida Statute 720.3045, introduced as a segment of House Bill 437. The law bars HOA associations from limiting homeowners' rights to install, display, or store items in their backyards, as long as these items are not visible from the street or neighboring properties. This statute doesn't apply if the items are banned by a broader state law or local regulations. Additionally, it grants homeowners the liberty to place artificial turf in these spaces and store recreational vehicles, boats, campers, and other similar items.
This development is particularly noteworthy for those living in HOA-governed communities. Traditionally, these communities have imposed stringent rules against storing various items on residential properties, regardless of their visibility from neighboring homes. This includes items like boats, trailers, sports equipment, and more.
For larger HOA communities, often featuring amenities like parks, golf courses, and ponds, the new statute introduces a degree of flexibility. It appears to permit the storage of items in backyards, even if they are visible from these communal areas, provided they remain out of sight from the street and adjacent homes.
In a significant shift, the new Florida legislation has brought relief to many homeowners who were previously constrained by (HOA) rules against the use of artificial turf. This groundbreaking law overrides existing HOA bylaws, granting residents the freedom to install artificial turf in their yards. This change has been particularly welcomed by those who have long been frustrated by the limitations imposed on their landscaping choices. Homeowners who favor artificial turf cite its low maintenance, consistent aesthetic appeal, and environmental benefits, such as reduced water usage, as key factors in their preference. The law's enactment reflects a growing acknowledgment of these advantages and marks a decisive step in empowering homeowners to make sustainable and practical choices for their properties.
The law specifically reads as follows:
... Regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of an association, and unless prohibited by general law or local ordinance, an association may not restrict parcel owners or their tenants from installing, displaying, or storing any items on a parcel which are not visible from the parcel’s frontage or an adjacent parcel, including, but not limited to, artificial turf, boats, flags, and recreational vehicles.
The straightforward wording of the new Florida law, coupled with the common practice among most Florida HOAs to integrate new and amended state laws into their governing documents automatically, means that a large portion of the state's associations will now be unable to limit the storage of items that can't be seen from the front or adjacent properties of a parcel.
This change is likely to be a major shift for numerous HOA communities. It necessitates that their boards of directors, property management teams, and legal advisors take this new legislation into account when making decisions about enforcement actions related to item storage.