Does your HOA have restrictions when it comes to solar panel system installations? Many homeowners are not aware of such limitations when they first purchase a home in an HOA community and may experience fines or be subject to a lawsuit if they install a solar panel system without having it approved by their association. This does not need to happen.
Homeowners that learn more about their HOA’s attitude toward solar panels and any restrictions can then find ways to find a solution that would meet with the association’s approval. Get more insight on overcoming potential HOA objections prior to residential solar panel system installation today.
The Potential Roadblock of Homeowner Associations
Historically speaking, many Homeowner Associations have either refused to allow or have issued restrictions on having a solar panel system installed on a home. Many homeowners felt powerless when subjected to such HOA restrictions. Homeowners have either installed the system and were subjected to fines, attempted negotiations or moved out of the community. Solar contractors and builders surveyed had fewer reported issues with HOAs than expected. Minor objections include considerations about aesthetic properties of the system. Major objections include requirements such as:
• Complete prohibitions of a solar system installation; and
• Ensuring the system not be able to be seen from the street.
Some builders surveyed did not experience any issue with an HOA as they primarily worked in areas offering new construction, or an area did not have an HOA or did not have restrictions when it came to solar panel installations.
Know About House Bill 362
Builders and installers who have experienced serious resistance from an HOA, have when needed, used House Bill 362. This bill addresses all areas of objection. The HOA is generally limited in their mandates of changes when it comes to solar system installation. In fact some stipulations become unenforceable when or if a requirement would lead to a 10 percent decrease or more in the production of a system annually. The only issue with this law is when it comes to neighborhoods “under development.” In such cases, developers have the final say on any restrictions imposed.
Ways to Overcome Objections
There may be minor or major objections when it comes to installing solar panels in an area with an HOA. In neighborhoods under development, it may be worthwhile to gather letters from all neighboring homeowners showing that they do not object to such a system. This approach may work. However, in such a situation, developers can continue to restrict or prohibit the installation of a system.
When it comes to minor objections, the best route may simply be to comply. In such cases, minor changes do not affect the system’s performance and alterations adhere to the aesthetic desires of the board—at the end of the day it is about the value these improvements bring to a home overall and month-to-month. And as reported on a recent survey, many installers have easily worked around minor restrictions and objections when installing a solar power system in an HOA community.
It appears to be a better choice to take every step to overcome objections before installing solar panels on a home. Those HOA communities with significant restrictions, such as limiting solar panels to the back of a home, may desire to file suit on those homeowners who proceed with an installation without their approval. However, new state laws may benefit homeowners interested in solar energy. For example, a state law in Illinois has forced HOAs to approve solar panel installation for homes since 2011. It pays for homeowners to become more aware of any restrictions in their community when it comes to residential solar panel systems and see whether or not state laws may, in essence, override the stipulations set by a specific HOA.
Results an Advantage for Homeowners
Homeowners may find they experience little if any resistance to solar panel installation in an HOA community. This makes it much easier to arrange for installation of solar panels on a roof or other designated area to provide a clean energy source. Legislation, such as the HB 362 in Texas, has made it easier for homeowners to take advantage of solar power. Solar panel systems for residential use have become increasingly affordable and with the many federal tax credits, and state and local incentives for homeowners, many are looking to take the next step and install a solar panel system on their home.