What to Expect from Your Homeowners Association (HOA) When Installing Solar Panels

Can my HOA prevent me from installing solar panels?

While HOAs do have the legal right to object to solar panel placement, homeowners have a lot more leverage than they think

Solar Panels & HOA Rules

The reason for this is quite simple – most HOA bylaws are copy pasted from other properties. Furthermore, they are tailored to equipment and methods that are no longer being used in the industry. In most instances, a properly designed system along with a customized HOA application explaining WHY a particular design and system orientation has been recommended, is sufficient to get HOA approval. Solar panels and homeowners associations aren’t at odds when the HOA is able to see the importance of solar power. Oftentimes, an HOAs solar panels fears originate from misconceptions about what the system will look like when installed. By explaining a particular design, we can show HOAs how solar panels and HOA rules don’t clash. Homes can still be beautiful and go solar. 

In case that does not happen, there are several ways to counter an objection from your HOA. 8MSolar sales consultants can provide a case by case guidance and can help you appeal this decision. In fact, we even go with our customers to HOA board meetings to present our client’s case from an engineering perspective. At these meetings and with our information, we can show how the solar panels and HOA rules will work together to make the community stronger, and often get panels approved.

Do HOAs Commonly Stop Residents From Adding Solar Panels?

8MSolar has been designing and installing solar panel systems since 2009. The biggest objection in our decade of experience has NOT been government legislation or tariffs, it’s our neighbors!

 Currently, deed restrictions, covenants, and binding agreements, such as those made with a homeowner’s association (HOA), can prohibit residential solar installations that are public-facing. A homeowner’s association or management company can stop a solar project, or force a homeowner to reposition a solar installation, which in many cases, reduces the sunlight exposure and thus the generating performance of the installation. That’s why many states have created solar access laws, to help limit the amount of restrictions HOAs and other organizations can place on solar panel systems. 

8MSolar provides turnkey project management, including filing your HOA application to minimize any chance of a rejection.

What are Solar Access Laws?

Because associations can limit homeowner rights to solar power, state governments often pass solar access laws. Solar access laws prohibit or, at a minimum, limit the ability to put restrictions on installing solar panel systems. While solar access laws protect the rights of homeowners to solar power, these solar access laws can vary from state to state. In the state of North Carolina, we don’t yet have full solar access laws passed, but there is a bill in the House that is designed to provide these solar access laws for our homeowners. 

What is HB750?

House Bill 750 – HB750 – aims to expand opportunities for the placement of residential solar installations. This is good news for the rooftop solar industry, as well as for customers who are currently limited by binding agreements or HOAs. If HB750 becomes law, no deed, covenant or similar binding agreement, such as the bylaws of a homeowners’ association, can prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting solar. This includes the installation of a solar collector that gathers solar radiation as a substitute for traditional energy for water heating, active space heating and cooling, passive heating, or generating electricity for a residential property on land subject to the deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreements. It also allows binding agreements to reposition a solar installation only if it doesn’t reduce operating efficiency by more than 10%.

As of April 17th, 2019 this bill has been filed in the general assembly and hopefully gets passed into law. Please take action and contact your local representative and inform them of your desire to have this bill passed into law and give North Carolina solar access laws! 

What are Solar Easements?

Besides solar access laws, there is another legal area that focuses instead on protecting your access to sunshine: solar easements. These agreements allow homeowners to negotiate with their neighbors or HOA about preventing obstructions that might interfere with the sunshine you need for your solar system. For example, a solar easement could include negotiations about a shade tree that might block solar panels. Solar easements are done in writing and are completely voluntary, unlike solar access laws. Some states have solar easement protections in place to help protect the rights of homeowners to create a solar easement. But even without the protections, homeowners can enter into a solar easement if their neighbors are willing to. That’s the key with solar easements: both parties have to agree to it for it to be valid. Still, solar easements are another avenue of protection for your solar system and access to power. 

To get more information on HOAs and solar installation contact us today!

******* UPDATE – 05/09/19 **********

Unfortunately it seems this bill was not taken up for voting this session and seems to have been put to the wayside. This is a temporary setback to all fans of green energy. Our goal should be to not take this as a defeat but to keep increasing awareness of Solar within our communities, our lawmakers and policy makers. We also need to work with our HOAs to make them understand our goals are the same as theirs, continued success of our communities and the places we live in, but banning solar is not the answer.

Communities and homes that have solar are oftentimes thinking ahead of the times and want to be at the forefront of our drive towards sustainability. We should all be working and guiding our HOAs to understand solar and proper community management are not adversaries. Let’s keep our hopes high and continue with our mission.

Reach out to your local representative today and ask them to approve HB-750 to limit HOA powers on rejecting solar panel systems.

FREE Virtual Consultation