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Real estate Q&A: What can I do about my neighbor wasting water?

Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: Our neighbor in our townhouse community wastes an excessive amount of water cleaning her sidewalk and driveway. We have asked her not to waste water, but she responds that it is covered by her maintenance dues, so there is no reason to worry about it. I am troubled by her waste of valuable resources. Is she allowed to get away with this? -- Marilyn

A: Conservation of water resources is a serious issue and should be taken seriously by everyone. However, I am unaware of any state laws that forbid hosing off a person's sidewalk and driveway. You may want to check your individual city's code to see if there are any local ordinances where you live. You can usually find a link to this information on its website. Also, your community association may have specific restrictions about this sort of behavior.

Even without a particular limitation in place, I have seen associations assess an individual homeowner who abuses a community resource, causing the bills to rise for the whole community.

There are rules that cover other aspects of water use that affect homeowners, however. Irrigation restrictions, and especially the use of automatic sprinklers, are restricted, and misuse can cause heavy fines. All homeowners should know and follow the rules for their area.

Besides curbing your neighbor's cleaning streak, there are other ways you can help conserve water. Try replacing your faucet aerators with models rated for less than 1.5 gallons per minute; encourage your community to only water the lawn when needed; install low flow appliances and shower heads; and make sure your toilets do not leak. Believe it or not, a leaky toilet can waste more than 200 gallons per day, which may be more than your neighbor uses cleaning her walks.

About The Writer

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Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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