It should come as no surprise to Arizona residents that the state needs to find ways to effectively conserve water. This can be at odds with Arizona associations and planned communities that restricted members from replacing natural grass with artificial turf. In response to some property owners that faced substantial fines from their HOA for installing artificial turf in their yard, Arizona passed HB2131 to establish laws that prevent HOAs from restricting members from replacing natural grass with artificial tur =if that HOA permits natural grass. Here is what HOAs and members need to know about HB2131 and artificial turf laws in Arizona planned communities.
Debate on Water Usage and Artificial Turf in Arizona
The debate over appropriate measures for water conservation and sustainable growth in Arizona has been going on for decades. However, the drought impacting the Southwest and some of the recent decisions regarding the Colorado river has made the issue more important than ever before. For the first time ever in August 2021, the Bureau of Reclamation announced a water shortage at Lake Mead and mandatory water restrictions were put in place for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The federal government agency’s plans to release less water this year has left Arizona cities and towns scrambling to find immediate ways to reduce water usage in their areas.
Natural grass lawns require a lot of water, especially in places as hot as the Phoenix valley. Any areas where natural grass can be removed will cut down on water usage. Installing artificial turf keeps the same aesthetic appeal without any need for water and maintenance. One of the main problems is that artificial turf gets extremely hot during Arizona summers. Recent studies have shown that artificial turf actually gets hotter than asphalt during the day so homeowners should not assume covering their whole yard in artificial grass is the perfect solution.
What is Arizona HB2131?
Governor Ducey signed HB2131 into law on March 30, 2022 to establish rules against banning artificial turf by associations and planned communities. The bill faced substantial debate before being passed in the first Arizona legislative session of the year. Here are the most important aspects of HB2131 for HOAs and association members to understand:
Planned communities in Arizona that allow natural grass on a member’s property cannot ban the installation or use of artificial turf on the property of any of its members. This new law does not apply to condominiums.
Planned communities can adopt and enforce reasonable regulations regarding installation, aesthetics, and appearance of the artificial turf, as long as those rules do not prevent installing artificial turf the same way that natural grass is allowed by the community documents.
HB2131 affirms that planned communities can establish rules regarding the location on the property and the percentage of the property that can be covered with natural grass or artificial turf, as long as they are treated the same.
Planned communities can prohibit the installation of artificial turf in the following circumstances:
If the planned community has banned new installation of natural grass on member properties, it can also ban installation of artificial turf. However, the HOA cannot deny a member from converting natural grass to artificial turf on their property.
If the area of the property is maintained or irrigated by the association in the governing documents, like a common area or front yard, the planned community can prohibit the installation of artificial turf.
For artificial turf, HOAs can require the following:
Remove and replace the artificial turf if it is not maintained according to the HOA’s maintenance standards.
Removal of the artificial turf that the member has already installed if that artificial turf creates any health or safety issues or hazards, especially if the member has not corrected the problem.
This law will not apply to any planned community with some unique vegetation or geologic characteristics that need preservation by the HOA. Those characteristics and features are enhanced, supported, or viably protected because of the natural landscaping materials that have continuously existed.
Handling Artificial Turf Laws as an Arizona HOA
When new laws pass that impact associations and planned communities specifically, it is advisable to review your covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) to make sure there are no rules that need to be updated. If your community has debated how to handle landscaping issues like artificial turf or removal of natural grass, it is an important time to work with an HOA law firm to make sure your governing documents are not at odds with HB2131 and the new artificial turf laws in Arizona. The Brown Law Group only represents associations and planned communities in Arizona. Our experienced HOA attorneys can quickly review your governing documents and assess any required updates. Contact us today at 602-952-6925 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online here.
The Brown Law Group shares this article for informational purposes only and it does not create an attorney-client relationship.