What are Your Rights Concerning a Solar Energy System and Your HOA?

Filed under: Market Comentary

solarMany homeowners live in a neighborhood where they have homeowners’ associations, also know as HOAs. There can be many positives with an HOA, but on the other hand, there can also be some restrictions as to what a homeowner can do with his or her property.

Currently, many homeowners are having photovoltaic energy systems, or solar panels, installed in their homes. And, due to this, the question is continually coming up if an HOA can prevent a homeowner from installing solar. Numerous HOAs have strict code restrictions in place, which may stop a homeowner from doing a variety of things with their property.

Most of these restrictions are based on aesthetic reasons, so it’s very important to know what your rights are, especially when it comes to installing a solar system.

The Solar Rights Act of 1978 (California Civil Code 714, AB 3250) actually removes all restrictions by HOAs on the installation of a photovoltaic energy system. And, even though the Act did not originally apply to cities, counties, municipalities, or other public entities, there was an amendment to the Act in September, 2003, which prohibited a public entity from receiving state grant funding for solar programs, if, in fact, the entity would attempt to stop a solar system from being installed.

The Solar Rights Act was again amended in 2004, which minimized “aesthetic solar restrictions” on those costing less than $2,000. The Solar Rights Act also states that it limits building official’s review of any solar electric installations to specific deemed items that relate to specific health and safety requirements.

However, even with the Solar Rights Act, there have been numerous disputes between homeowners and their HOAs. AB 2180 from 2008 allows further protection for the homeowner under the Civil Code by saying that any HOA that is not an actual public entity and willfully violates the Solar Rights Act will have to pay the homeowner who has installed a solar system a penalty, not to exceed $1,000.

If you have an HOA, AB 2180 indicates that the approval or denial of your application that you submitted of installing a solar system has to be made in writing within 60 days. And, if your application is not denied within this time frame, you will be automatically approved by default, unless the HOA gives a reasonable request for the need of additional information.

Many homeowners are attempting to save money on their electric bill by having a solar system installed, and if you have a homeowners’ association, you have the right to put one in.

I will point out that the legislation mentioned in this article is primarily for California, but other states such as Washington have similar laws either in place or being proposed.  If you have any questions, please give me a call and we can discuss whatever is on your mind.

More information on this topic can be obtained by contacting Mary Carlson at New Day Solar.  http://newdaysolar.com/  (855) 444- 6329


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