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Can HOA Prevent Solar Panels? Know Your Homeowner Rights.

a photo of cardboard or wooden houses with an HOA (home owners association)
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It is no secret that solar panels are becoming increasingly popular. However, when it comes to installing them at home, you may be subject to certain restrictions. Homeowners Associations (HOAs) have the power to restrict or even prohibit and directly control many aspects of residents’ homes. But can HOA prevent solar panels from being use?

In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at the regulations that HOAs may have on solar panel installations. We will also touch on what you need to know before you decide to install them. We will also cover the laws and restrictions that may be in place and what you can do to make sure your installation follows the rules. By the end of this post, you will better understand your HOA’s influence on your options concerning solar panel installation.

What are HOAs and Why Do They Exist?

Homeowners Associations are homeowners who volunteer to maintain common areas in the neighborhood collectively. They do this by levying fees on each homeowner, which are used to pay for upkeep services. HOAs are typically formed when most homeowners choose to form one. However, smaller groups of owners can also form an HOA if they wish and can organize the services.

Homeowners Associations can effectively preserve property values and maintain the quality of life in a neighborhood. On the flip side of these benefits, however, they also have some drawbacks. The most obvious one is that they can prevent homeowners from making changes to their properties that they might otherwise want to make.

For example, if you wanted to install solar panels on your house, the Homeowners Associations may not allow it. In this case you’d have to stop installing them or risk being fined by the Homeowners Associations.

But what’s less obvious is that Homeowners Associations may not have any legal authority over your home’s exterior appearance at all! Some states have passed laws giving HOAs explicit power over exterior appearance issues. This can include things like solar panel installation but others haven’t passed these kinds of laws and regulations just yet.

It is also important to note that if your state has passed such laws, they’re still subject to interpretation by courts in individual cases. These hearings are based on whether or not they believe those laws apply to your specific case. You may still have grounds to argue that you should be allowed to install solar panels on your home. Can HOA prevent solar panels from being installed, let’s look a little deeper at that.

solar panels on a roof with snow during winter

Examples of HOA Standard Regulations and Control

As the solar panel industry grows, homeowners are increasingly interested in installing solar panels. However, they may find that their homeowner’s association (HOA) is not keen on the idea. While HOAs can’t prevent you from installing solar panels on your home, they can set rules about how you install them.

Homeowners Associations have the right to set rules for what homeowners can do with their property. This means that if there are certain restrictions about painting your house or putting up a fence, those rules also apply to solar panels. However, there are some legal limitations to this ability. HOAs cannot restrict your use of your own property just because they don’t like it or think it’s ugly (unless there’s a safety concern), nor can they restrict it for reasons unrelated to aesthetics.

For example, suppose your Homeowners Association decides that all roofs must be green because it looks better with all of the other houses in the neighborhood. In that case, they may be able to enforce such an ordinance. But if all of the houses in the neighborhood have red roofs, they can’t force you to conform. If your roof is blue, they cannot require you to change the color to because they prefer one color over another. This is true unless they could justify such a requirement based on actual research findings.

Understanding what will and will not apply to your solar panel installation request is key to knowing what your HOA can enforce.

Understanding Your HOA’s Rules On Solar Panel Installations

In most cases, Homeowners Associations are required by law to allow homeowners to install solar panels in their homes. HOAs can only take action if installing solar panels violates pre-existing architectural standards, such as altering existing structures or damaging property.

Homeowners Associations members must also review solar panel installations for safety reasons before installing. This is done to ensure the safety of neighbors who may share common walls. Homeowners must provide consent from all owners on adjoining lots before installing any rooftop solar systems or panels. This is a common courtesy to let them know of any possible impacts it might have on their property.

Can HOA Prevent Solar Panels?

Can HOA prevent solar panels? Most states have rights protecting homeowners regarding “green construction,” This means requirements like “no solar panels” rules within an association cannot stand if they directly violate local regulations and allowances.

HOAs are not mandated under law typically but are encouraged through incentives created by state entities. These allowances aim at supporting renewable energy initiatives from government departments and committees. Programs like this encourage citizens and communities alike towards lifestyle choices, including clean energy utilization.

This is accomplished through home installations such as rooftop solar paneling unless otherwise stated explicitly within existing legislation. The ultimate goal of the HOA is to provide uniformity and reliable references for the operation and upkeep of the properties under their control and leadership.

an aerial view of solar panels on a roof in a home and neighborhood

Is Installing Solar Panels Illegal in Any State?

This can be a difficult question to answer. While no state thus far technically outlaws or bans solar panels, it is not always simple and easy. Some states do not always make it the most straightforward process to work through.

According to a 2023 report from House Method, “Most states have solar access laws that forbid any agreement, covenant, condition, bylaw, or contract that outlaws or limits solar installations by Homeowners Associations or other municipal bodies. However, some states still make installing solar panels functionally impossible by creating laws with “reasonable restrictions,” such as increased taxing, energy caps, or even billing solar panel users. Combine these laws with a lack of incentive programs, and solar panels are not viable for homeowners in many states.”

Every state has laws that control things such as energy and solar use, as highlighted in an early 2023 report from Forbes.

States With a Lack of Incentives

The states with the least friendly laws, highest fees and restrictions, and most significant lack of incentives for solar panel use include:

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Alaska

States With the Best Incentives

States with the best-ranked solar power programs and the highest ranking for the number of solar panels and homes using solar energy include:

  • California
  • Nevada
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • Florida

When asking the question of, can HOA prevent solar panels, you must remember local laws also impact final rulings. Some states may not oppose solar panel use but leave it up to the local city and residential organizations. It is these smaller groups that can specify solar panel requirements and guidelines.

This is where Homeowners Associations can get some standing to make it more difficult for residents to add panels to their homes. This doesn’t mean residents can’t have solar panels. It just means it might be in for a fight to get the permits and meet the requirements to do so.

a man on a roof installing a solar panel

Steps to Take if Your HOA is Trying to Stop You from Using Solar Panels

If your Homeowners Association is trying to stop you from installing solar panels on your home, there is no need to panic. Don’t overreact, and keep a calm head. Following these steps can help you secure permission to add solar panels to your home:

Review governing documents and your lease terms

Check your Homeowners Association governing documents, such as the bylaws and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

See what is and what is not spelled out and outlined in the terms you agreed to. This can help you determine whether there are any specific restrictions on solar panel installations explicitly. If you can determine there are only vague terms and guidelines provided it can help you make your case.

Check to see what your state’s solar access laws entail

Many states have special guidelines and permissions for energy conservation and sustainability initiatives.

Some also provide protections for homeowners who want to install solar panels and allow exceptions to other state and local restrictions. If your state has solar access laws and allowances, they may protect your right to install solar panels. Knowing this ahead of time can give you a firmer case to stand against HOA regulations.

Positively communicate with your HOA

Let your HOA know that you are interested in what needs to be done so you can install solar panels on your home. Keeping a positive vibe about the entire process can help smooth things over.

Ask them about their policies and procedures for approving solar panel installations. You will also want to work with them to establish a positive rapport. Provide them with information about the benefits and how it can help the community and not just yourself.

Provide the required paperwork and documentation

If your Homeowners Association requires a solar panel installation proposal, it must be completed. And for the sake of the long-term plans, you will want to do so as soon as possible.

It is also essential to make sure you are thorough and provide all the necessary documentation. This could include a site plan, engineering drawings, and information about the solar panels. You may also be required to include data about the proposed installation process and timeline.

Seek legal advice when it is necessary

If you feel you are legally permitted to add solar panels to your home despite the HOA ruling there are options. If the Homeowners Association is still trying to stop you, legal action may be your best option.

You may want to consult a local attorney specializing in HOA and solar rights issues in your state or city. They can help you understand your rights and provide assistance and help you through whatever the next steps entail.

Remember that installing solar panels on your home can provide many benefits, such as reducing your energy bills and helping to reduce your carbon footprint. With the right approach, you may be able to overcome any obstacles that your HOA presents and successfully install solar panels on your home.

Can HOA Prevent Solar Panels? Final Thoughts

Installing solar panels on your home can be a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. However, you must follow the regulations established by your homeowner’s association. This makes it absolutely essential to understand their rules and restrictions. In most cases, you should have no problem installing solar panels if you obtain the necessary approvals from all involved parties.

With knowledge of the laws and an understanding of the Homeowners Association regulations on solar panel installations, it is time to act. You can ensure that your installation is done safely and in accordance with local requirements. Planning ahead, working with your HOA rather than against them, and researching state and local laws and regulations can make the process easier from start to finish.

To learn more about the connection between HOA and solar panel use, and for personalized advice and guidance, contact us today. We are here to make the process easier from start to finish. Call us today to get started at 1-833-433-0331!

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