Do you want solar, but are part of an HOA, or Home Owners Association? There is a small chance that you have a fight ahead of you.The majority of HOAs in California approve California solarenergy systems without a problem (most HOAs are aware of your Solar Rights and support clean, solar energy in their community), but there is a small percentage of Home Owner’s Associations that might put up a fight. HOAs can impact the feasibility, design, and completion speed of proposed home improvements, including a home solar energy system.
He explains the ground rules that form the foundation for home solar system approval through an HOA:
- The Solar Rights Act of 1978: In California, you are not allowed to prohibit or restrict the installation or use of a home solar energy system. In addition, no one, other than a public entity, is allowed to “willfully avoid or [delay]” the installation of a solar energy system. If you do, you’ll be fined.
- Section 714 of California Civil Code: Municipalities and HOAs can restrict your solar energy system if these restrictions don’t increase its cost by more than $2,000 or decrease its efficiency/performance by more than 20%.
some of the Home Owners Association’s most common tactics:
- Make you move your solar panels where they won’t be visible
- Require the purchase of a type of panel that HOA will find aesthetically pleasing
- Prolong approval at their meetings, so either you’ll give up on a home solar energy system or your rebate will expire before installation.
- Get a third party “independent” solar contractor to review your desgn
And he also includes your possible next steps, if you are confronted with a stubborn HOA management board:
- Own and lead the fight (HOA management will not listen to your solar contractor)
- Show your HOA the solar Rights Act
- Prepare cost and efficiency comparisons between your plans and HOA plans
- Get photos of other solar installations your installer has done
- And if you must, bring in some legal help or get creative – one example Scott lists is having neighbors sign a petition supporting your solar energy system design, or getting elected to the board yourself.