10 Surprising Things a Homeowner Can Be Fined For

As a homeowner, you have the responsibility to keep your home safe, clean, and in compliance with city ordinances. While you may already be aware that you’re not supposed to let your grass get too tall, there are other common code violations that you should know about so you can avoid getting a hefty fine from your city. Want to get the city off your back? Here are the 10 most surprising things a homeowner can be fined for.

  1. Stagnant Water

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    Homeowner Fines Stagnant Water

    Heavy rains or flooding can cause puddles to form in your yard, in buckets or in other outdoor containers—but did you know that you can get in trouble if you let that water sit for too long? Stagnant water is not only unsightly, but it can also be a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitos, which poses a health risk for you and your neighborhood.

    Related: 6 Smart Ways to Prevent a Soggy Yard with Every Rain Shower

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  2. Clotheslines in the Front Yard

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    Homeowner Fines Outdoor Clothesline

    Hanging clothes to dry is a more environmentally friendly way to do laundry, but many cities—like the city of Southgate, California—frown upon stringing a clothesline in the front yard. So, if you must hang laundry out to dry, do it in the backyard to avoid a violation.

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  3. Obstructing Your Address Number

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    Homeowner Fines House Number

    If you’re a fan of the “more is more” approach to your yard, just be careful not to let your landscaping get so lush that it obstructs your address number. Obstructed address numbers are a violation of code compliance because the fire, police, and ambulance personnel need to be able to identify your home in case of an emergency.

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  4. Missing or Loose Handrails on Stairs or Decks

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    Homeowner Fines Loose Handrail

    Handrails are more than just a decorative feature on your staircase—they’re usually legally required for safety reasons. If you have outdoor steps that have an unsecured handrail or no handrail at all, your city may have the right to fine you until you get it fixed.

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  5. Trees Blocking the Street

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    Homeowner Fines Fallen Trees

    Big, beautiful trees make a neighborhood feel like home, but they can also create a nuisance if they become overgrown. Tree laws vary by city, but in Austin, Texas property owners are required to trim trees so that there is at least 14 feet of clearance over the curb line.

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  6. Improper Storage of a Boat, Trailer or R.V.

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    Homeowner Fines Boat Storage

    Those homeowners who enjoy getting out on the boat or hitting the open road with a trailer should be aware that they can’t just park them anywhere on their property. Though regulations vary by municipality, it’s usually illegal to park boats or recreational vehicles on the street or even in your driveway—meaning you’ll have to rent off-site parking, or create your own dedicated garage—or park it out back, if local laws allow.

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  7. Having Too Many Yard Sales

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    Homeowner Fines Yard Sales

    Yard sales are a great way to clear a cluttered home, but be sure to keep count of how many times per year you sell your stuff. Cities like Modesto, California limit the number of yard sales to just two per year, and sales are only allowed to last for three days—otherwise, you’ll be in violation of city code.

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  8. Unsanitary Pool

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    Homeowner Fines Swimming Pool

    In addition to ensuring that your pool is surrounded by a safety fence, you'll also need to keep it in sanitary condition. A green or mold-covered pool is in violation of most city codes, so be sure to keep extra shock and a skimmer at the ready.

    Related: 10 Energy-Wise Ways to Lower Your Pool Maintenance Costs

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  9. Broken Windows

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    Homeowner Fines Broken Window

    If a neighbor kid hit your front window with a baseball, you may not want to sit on it for too long. Broken windows cause more than a dicey appearance, drafty interior, and a security risk—they may be illegal and result in you being hit with a hefty fine.

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  10. Putting Your Garbage Can Out Too Early

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    Homeowner Fines Garbage Can

    You may think that getting your trash can and recycling bins out to the curb early makes you a responsible homeowner, but think again. In towns like Hallandale Beach, Florida, getting your bins out to the curb before 6 p.m. the preceding day of pickup can result in a fine.

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