While the government offers tax credits and other incentives for you to go solar, many homeowner associations seem to be behind the times. So can your HOA dictate everything you do on your personal property? Not anymore when it comes to solar power.
Many homeowners discover, after-the-fact, that their request to install solar is denied by homeowners association board members, due to clauses written in their HOA bylaws. Community officials believe solar panels change the pre-planned aesthetics and landscape of the neighborhood, and generally look out of place. The main concern of HOA boards are that solar panels may drastically lower home values, especially in cases where only a few homes within a community have panels installed.
Two dozen states, including Maryland have “solar access rights” laws that limit homeowner associations from banning solar panels. This law overrides your homeowners’ association contract that restricts you from installing the panels.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean your homeowner association can’t place a few community restrictions; HOA’s can still enforce where to put your panels, or how to install them– these laws usually say that some restrictions are still possible. But if your HOA denies your request to have solar panels installed, you can recite the law, or, in the worst case scenario, you can sue your HOA and let the courts decide.
In the meantime, it can’t hurt to try winning your HOA board members over with a few persuasive arguments;
- Solar panels provide major environmental benefits and they fight one of our biggest challenges for the future, climate change. The production of energy pollutes our air even more than cars do– overall, the majority of power plants in the U.S. are polluting the air. That pollution not only impacts climate change, but also serious health issues like asthma, bronchitis, pulmonary disease, and lowers our resistance to infections.
- Solar power increases the value of your home. For every $1 saved in annual electricity costs, your home jumps up $20 in value.
- Solar panels decrease energy costs, thereby helping you save a bundle of money – something everyone can agree with.
Additionally, keep in mind HOA board members abide by community bylaws, thus if you can win over 75% of the property owners with some persuasive reasoning, you can modify your HOA bylaws.
New Laws on Horizon
Several bills that include provisions protecting homeowners rights to install solar have been introduced to the House of Representatives, and its very possible there may be a new federal law on the horizon that, among many, protects the rights of all Americans to install solar panels hoa rules forbidden, and enable ground mounts of solar panels.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) would make it illegal to restrict the installation of solar panels HOA rules included. This federal law would basically override any HOA rules, and private contracts that prohibit solar panels, with exceptions.
- Historic properties: Home’s listed on the Maryland Register of Historic Properties, or by the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties are legally restricted from installing solar panels on a home.
- Ground mounted panels. The roof is typically where solar panels are installed, however, if your home is shaded by trees, a roof mount is not always possible. It’s possible to mount solar panels in the ground, a short distance away from the home. However, the law only protects panels installed on the roof or affixed to exterior walls, and your HOA can then legally restrict ground mounted installed panels.
Dealing with homeowner associations can be frustrating, and even when the law is on your side, property owners often find that when seeking solar panels HOA rules still can be a prickly thorn. The bottom line is you’ll have to make concessions as long as you live within an HOA community.