Maryland – Right to Compost for HOAs and Condos

The right to engage in composting is often prohibited or highly restricted for those living within homeowners’ associations (HOAs) or condominiums. Maryland House Bill 248, which became law on May 30th, 2021 without the Governor’s signature, clarifies rights and restrictions on composting regulations in condominiums and HOAs throughout Maryland. The new law, sponsored by Delegate Emily Shetty (District 18), allows condominium and HOA unit owners to subscribe to food scrap collection services and HOA lot owners to compost at home. It will take effect on October 1, 2021. 

 

Compost Collection Services

HOAs and condominium lot or unit owners may organize, free from unreasonable barriers, with a private compost collection service for the collection of their household organic waste. 

“Section 11-111.4
(B) A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a condominium may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict a unit owner from contracting with a private entity to collect organic waste materials from the unit owner for composting at a composting facility.” 
“Section 11B-111.8
(B) A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict a lot owner from:
(2) Contracting with a private entity to collect organic waste materials from the lot owner for composting at a composting facility.”

 

At-Home Composting

The law outlines that HOAs may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict lot owners from composting organic waste for household use, provided that the composting activities are conducted in an area to which the lot owner has exclusive usage rights. 

“Section 11B-111.8
(B) A recorded covenant or restriction, a provision in a declaration, or a provision in the bylaws or rules of a homeowners association may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict a lot owner from:
(1) Composting organic waste materials for the lot owner’s personal or household use, provided that the lot owner:
(i) Owns or has the right to exclusive use of the area where the composting is conducted; AND
(ii) Observes all laws, ordinances, and regulations of the state and local jurisdiction that pertain to composting;”

Note that at-home composting for condominium unit owners is not covered by this law. 

 

Updating archaic laws 

This bill is one of the first of its kind in the United States and a great example of the power of updating older laws that can unduly restrict environmentally-friendly activities. ILSR’s report, Yes! In My Backyard: A Home Composting for Local Government, has explained the importance of amending archaic policies in order to proactively support sustainable practices like home composting. 

 

Further Reading

A similar law in Texas states that property owners associations cannot prohibit, but can regulate composting systems.

Read our written testimony in support of the bill here

Check out our article on MD House Bill 248 and three other new Maryland laws that spur local composting.

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Original post from July 20, 2021

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Sophia Jones

Sophia Jones is an Intern with ILSR’s Composting for Community project. She is passionate about sustainability at all levels and has previously worked with the United Nations, the Government of Barbados, and Plant NOVA Natives on various sustainability-related projects.