How to Deal With Neighborhood HOA Solar Rules
While many neighborhood Home Owners Associations (HOAs) will turn a blind eye to architecture that most would find decidedly unloveable, they do tend to fixate on “ugly” solar panels.
Other than not living in a community with an HOA, what is the best way around the problem?
Know your right to solar
At least twenty four states now have “solar access rights” including California, Utah, Texas, Arizona and Florida. These laws limit homeowner associations from banning solar panels and they override any homeowners’ association contract that might try to restrict you from having solar panels on your roof.
It is best to go to your meeting with copies of the law for your state so that your HOA is aware that you do have the law on your side.
And in the worst case scenario, if your HOA denies your request to have solar panels installed anyway, you can sue and let the courts decide.
How to work with your neighborhood HOA
Of course, even with state law on your side, bear in mind that you have to live with these clueless morons – excuse me, these dear neighborly paragons of aesthetic correctness – so it would obviously be unwise to simply charge in there trumpeting your rights.
Also, while state law may prevent them from stopping you from going solar altogether, it doesn’t prevent HOAs from dictating where you can put your panels.
Here is where it is best to try to work with your HOA using your powers of charm and persuasion on finding a way to design the system to be most attractive so that it doesn’t offend, while still function in generating energy.
See their side
Because HOAs want to preserve neighbourhood property values, some of their concerns are in fact reasonable. Poorly constructed or renovated homes do in fact lower the value of everyone’s homes.
Most HOAs with a bee in their bonnet about solar are concerned with where they are placed – can they be seen from the street? How are they are positioned? Will they protrude above roof level? Will they be shoddily installed and fly off in a stiff breeze?
So be prepared for your meeting armed with a shared concern with quality and aesthetics and you will be better positioned to convince your HOA that your solar installer is a quality installer who accounts for wind-load tolerances and correct roof penetrations.
But remember that HOAs must also abide by community bylaws; this works in your favor: if you can persuade three out four of your neighbours with some persuasive facts about how solar home values rise with solar, maybe you can improve your HOA bylaws with this updated information.
And last, don’t forget to enlist the professionals. Many solar companies are adept at providing HOAs with presentations that lay out all the many advantages of solar for your community.
Your solar company can also present documentation showing how they will either conceal your arrays from the street, or make the most attractive installation possible. Many firms specialize in dealing with these sorts of neighborhood obstructions. And who knows? They might all decide to go solar so they all match.
Image Credit: via FlickR under CC license