Real estate will always be cool – no doubt about that. There’s something special about owning your own piece of the pie. There’s some magic level of adulthood reserved for those who know the “ins and outs” of mortgages. There is camaraderie in identifying yourself as someone who has taken the “plunge” of ownership. Real estate, also, can be weird. There are rules to follow and checklists to keep up with; bills to pay, things to be sprayed and corners to be cleaned. Rarely, in some particular cases, there are inarguably ludicrous laws to follow. Whether I point to outdated laws that have simply been overlooked or laws that are – regardless of time and space – laughable, the oddities of real estate laws are worth noting. Here are some of my favorites.


Location: Rhode Island

In Summary: You can pick your house but you can’t pick your neighbors, so you better just be friendly (period).

In this small state, everybody knows everybody (or if not, they should). Why? Homeowners can’t have fences that are higher than six feet tall. Fences that are higher than regulation height are called “spite fences.” The law is meant to allow property owners to have undisturbed views surrounding their property while at the same time promote better neighbor-to-neighbor relationships.

Location: Aspen, Colorado

In Summary: Snow days have rules, too.

You would think Colorado would be the ultimate spot to set up and get after a snowball fight of epic proportions – but not so fast. In Aspen, it’s actually illegal to throw snowballs at people on public property. Oh yeah, and you aren’t allowed to take aim at houses, either. No word on water gun fights, yet, though, so spray on…

Location: Hawaii and New Mexico

In Summary: Keep the peace!

Sunday has, in tradition, been a day of quiet reflection – a day of rest. These states intend to keep it that way, forbidding homeowners from disturbing the silence on Sundays. Specifically, that means no leaf blowing or lawn mowing on that day of the week!


Location: Arizona

In Summary: Don’t touch the plants!

Arizona is a state dotted with beauty, and it’s all natural, baby! Perhaps that’s why they are a little touchy when it comes to what’s sprouting up in the neighborhood. Here, it’s illegal to remove the once-endangered Saguaro Cactus from your yard without first obtaining a permit. That bloom is the state flower, after all.

Location: Waldron Island, Washington

In Summary: If you have to use the restroom, get in line…

In this small town in Washington, there are limits for how many trips to the bathroom families can make. Okay, not really! But there are restrictions on the number of toilets allowed per building (2). The law is intended to help keep some of the local charms intact and discourage big-time development. Still, though, it’s good to know that if you’re visiting and you’ve got to go, you should call dibs!

xmas lights

Location: Maine

In Summary: The holidays are over. Move on, already.

We all have that neighbor that is always a little delayed in taking down their holiday decorations. Heck, they might just leave them up all year long! Not if they live in Maine, though. The state has put its foot down and expects holiday cheer to come to a screeching halt (and decorations to come down) no later than January 14th.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

In Summary: Don’t get too comfortable (on your front porch).

You might think your home, your décor, but there are some lines…and limits. In boulder, there are no upholstered items (couches, armchairs) or mattresses allowed in your lawn or on your front porch. If the law itself seems peculiar the reason for its existence is even more so: because the town had a problem with college kids frequently burning couches in their front yards.

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