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10 Weird Real Estate Laws in the USA

Weird real estate laws in the USA you’ll get a kick out of knowing (and might help you win the next trivia contest you’re in).

Behind the seemingly simple routine of buying and selling houses lurk some laws that are just plain weird. From water rights waiting lists to limitations on the amount of toilets in a building, here are the top ten weird real estate laws in the United States.

1. Choose your roommates carefully. In Missouri and Arkansas it is illegal for numerous women to rent an apartment together. In Missouri, the magic number is four. Even if those four women are related, they cannot rent together. Regardless of the relationship of the women, in Arkansas, six women renting together is illegal. The reason? These states have Brothel laws which attempted to reduce the number of these types of properties. Although the incentive for these laws is a justifiable cause, the wording is extremely broad and, in some cases, unfit for more modern times.

hang out

2. Get your fence out of my face. Ever been annoyed by that neighbor with his ridiculously tall fence? Then Rhode Island may be the place for you. This law states that properties cannot have fences higher than six feet. Overly tall fences are considered “spite fences” and require the builder to remove or lower them. The idea behind the law is to offer all property owners unobstructed views around their home and minimize conflicts between neighbors.


3. See ya later alligator.  If you dream of owning an alligator and keeping it in your bathroom, then mark Arkansas off your list of potential states to live in. The law is more geared toward preservation of the species and prohibits any possession of alligators, in your bathtub or otherwise.

dancing alligator

4. Sunday is a day of rest. Don’t you just hate when you’re trying to sleep in on Sunday and someone starts up their leaf blower or lawn mower shattering the peaceful silence of the morning? Well, in Hawaii and New Mexico, those actions are illegal. Other states restrict DIY activities like roof shingeling on Sunday as well. In New Jersey, you should hold off on painting your house and in New York, putting putty in those nail holes can wait. These states maintain laws that originated in a very Christian majority oriented time and were used as a further means of control.

5. Waiting for water. Moving to California may seem like a dream but you might want to think twice before purchasing property there. All properties require water rights. Without them, having sewer and water hookups is illegal. Since water is considered an extremely precious commodity, these laws originated to aid in conservation.

6. Put those plants away. In California, strict restrictions limit the amount and type of plants home owners can keep outdoors. Because of this, home owners are required to keep their potted plants indoors. Violating this law can result in your plants being taken away and/or you being fined.

7. Flush away. In a small town in Washington, there is a strict limit of two toilets per building. The premise for this law is water conservation under the assumption that fewer toilets means fewer flushes. Have more than two toilets in your home? Get ready for an investigation to expose other illegalities.


8.The Doors. Painting your door a funky color seems like an easy freedom to enjoy. If you own a historic home, however, you’ll be met with several restrictions about what you can and cannot do to your house. In St. Louis, homeowners are provided with strict guidelines to follow when replacing, painting, or replacing their front doors. Maintaining the integrity of the original property seems to be the goal of this law.

9. Good Samaritan. In Arizona, law dictates that if homeowners are encountered by a homeless person or beggar during extreme heat, they must give them water or face penalties such as fines. Although the law is a bit more general stating that it is illegal to deny aid to someone in need, homeowners and business owners, such as convenience stores, should beware refusing people knocking at their door.

10. Who ya gonna call? Ever wondered if your house was haunted? In New York, you don’t have to wonder. Sellers are required by law to disclose information about the property for sale. This information can range from the more obvious like structural issues, to the more obscure like whether or not the property is thought to be haunted. The law originated from a desire to know whether or not a person had died on a particular property, which could, in some cases, affect the value.

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