5 Obscure Real Estate Laws

There’s no shortage of unusual laws affecting real estate—far more than can be listed here. But here are five from the last year that deserve their time in the spotlight.

March 1, 2012

1. In an attempt to stem the problem of unwanted manure left in front of residential properties and businesses, Watertown, N.Y., is considering a law requiring horses to wear diapers. (Watertown Daily Times, Jan. 18, 2012)

2. Residents of Illinois (excluding Chicago) are now permitted to paint their trees purple in order to keep trespassers off their property. (Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, Aug. 31, 2011)

3. Hedges that encroach on sidewalks must be kept trimmed in Plattsburgh, N.Y. The new law allows the city to trim overgrown hedges and bill property owners (Plattsburgh Press Republican, Nov. 3, 2011). Similar laws in Lockport, N.Y, and Harlingen, Texas, allow the town to mow residents’ lawns when grass grows over one foot. (Buffalo News, Sept. 8, 2011; Harlingen Valley Morning Star, July 13, 2011)

4. “Toy ranches” in Pitkin County, Colo., are no longer considered agricultural property (AP, Oct. 10, 2011). A property is considered a toy ranch if the property around the house is used for grazing but the house itself isn’t integral to the ranching operation.

5. Home owners in South Carolina who want to recycle copper pipes must obtain a permit from their local sheriff’s office. The goal is to curb illegal stripping of copper for cash sale to recyclers. (CBS News Channel 7, Spartanburg, June 20, 2011 )

Frederik Heller

Frederik Heller is Director of Library Operations and Information Strategy at the National Association of REALTORS®. He can be reached at fheller@nar.realtor or 312-329-8361.