Here are some of the most insane property laws in America
At the risk of starting a conversation about the U.S. legal system or unnecessary government intervention (yeah, we’re sick of all that too), we couldn’t help writing an article on the topic of bizarre property laws.
A recent research session led us down a rabbit hole of insane laws on the books in these United States. C’mon. If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that a woman can walk down the street unattended on a Sunday, even if she’s recently eaten onions (but more on that later).
Property Room 360 has a funny article
that runs the gamut on obscure property laws, some of which have roots in sound environmental policy. Others are relics of a bygone era that simply haven’t been updated.
For example, you can’t buy property in draught-stricken California without actually paying for water rights – otherwise hooking up your water or sewer is illegal. And in Arizona, you can be fined for refusing aid to someone who comes to your home or business in need, a so-called Good Samaritan law that (we have to suspect) is nearly unenforceable on the private-citizen level.
And some of them are just darn convenient: In Rhode Island it’s illegal to build a fence higher than six feet on your property. And in New Mexico and Hawaii it’s illegal to make an inordinate amount of noise – think leaf blowers and lawn mowers – too early on a Sunday. In Arkansas it’s illegal to possess and alligator in your home or apartment. California citizens are limited on the type of potted plants they can have on their property.
But Missouri – incidentally the home base for ZBuyer – takes the cake (along with neighboring Arkansas). In these states it’s illegal for four or more women to rent an apartment or home together.
From the article:
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.
- In Arkansas you can be fined for mispronouncing Arkansas
- All residents in Barre, Vermont, must bathe every Saturday night. Owners in rural parts of Virginia can’t shine a spotlight on their chicken coop if it causes the poultry to panic.
- Iowa homeowners who have pet monkeys can’t let their chimps smoke cigarettes. Folks in Kansas cannot cook a snake in their kitchen on Sunday.
- Up in Alaska, you can shoot a bear if it rambles onto your property but you can’t wake one up to take a photo. In California, you can legally cook frog legs in your kitchen – as long as the frog didn’t die in a frog-jumping contest.
- Chicagoans can’t eat in a home or restaurant if the place is on fire. If you eat garlic for lunch or dinner, you can’t go to a movie theater until four hours later if you live in Gary, Indiana.
- In White Horse, New Mexico, a woman can’t eat onions in her house on Sabbath and then walk the streets unless she’s trailed by her spouse, who must “follow 20 paces behind, carrying a loaded musket over his left shoulder.
We can’t make these things up, folks.
Now, because you’re professionals, we’ll pass along this Business Week article that explores some of the more practical – but still a bit strange – things that can be included in real estate contracts
, including irregular inclusions, seller contingencies, and escalator clauses. Nowhere near as interesting as smoking chimpanzee, but likely much more applicable to your business.
What are some of your favorite bizarre property laws? What are some actual (but underused) contract maneuvers you will put to work for your clients when necessary?