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Before you say "yes" to solar, you'll need to find out who (or what) has the right to say "no" to you first. 

If you're wondering if your HOA has the right to turn you down, you've come to the right place. 

 

By the time you've finished this blog, you'll understand the following: 

 

  • What say your HOA has in your solar panel installation 
  • If so, what steps will you need to take to get them approved 

 

Which states have laws regarding solar rights?

 

Both federal and state legislatures recognize that solar is a preferred energy source for homeowners and have supported its growth with tax incentives and legislation. 

 

The booming solar market speaks for itself. For the last decade, residential solar sales have increased year over year as pre-incentive solar system costs have decreased by over 60%. 

 

The people want solar! 

 

That said, each state empowers its HOAs to determine within its guidelines if and how its members install solar panels. We can divide the 50 states and D.C. into three categories regarding HOA member solar rights:

 

  1. Covenants and restrictions are prohibited.

Twenty-eight states and Washington D.C. have established laws that prevent HOAs from restricting homeowners from installing solar panels. These are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Washington D.C.
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

 

The restrictions differ by state and afford the HOAs some latitude to place "reasonable restrictions" on solar systems, which may impact the design of their solar system. 

 

Arizona HOAs are permitted to restrict the location of the panels, and Virginia allows its HOAs to limit the size, place, and manner of placement.

 

  1. No protections

Ten states do not have any protections for homeowners. HOAs in these states are permitted to restrict solar panel installation according to their rules and regulations: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming

 

  1. Easements are protected with no express solar rights law.

And lastly, we have 11 states which do not have laws prohibiting HOAs from restricting homeowners from installing solar panels but do protect easements. Property owners can legally protect access to the sunlight needed to power their solar panels in these states by obtaining solar easements. An easement is a contract that allows one property owner to use a second property owner's land without taking ownership.

 

In New Hampshire, a solar customer can obtain a "solar skyspace easement," which is an agreement that guarantees that no structures or trees can block the solar system's access to sunlight. 

 

  • Alaska
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky 
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island 
  • Tennessee

If you can enter an easement with one or more neighbors, you may not need approval from an HOA. While your closest neighbors may have the most significant interest in your property, this is still a discussion you want to have with the HOA. 

 

How do I get approval from my HOA to install solar panels?

 

You can take several steps to give yourself the best chance at approval. 

 

Understand your state's solar laws

Whether dealing with a solar-friendly board or a group of sun-hating sticklers, you must know your state's solar laws. HOA rules complement laws; they do not supersede them. You're starting in a much different bargaining position in a state with protections vs. one without them. 

 

Understand your HOA guidelines. 

You need to know your HOA's existing policies before requesting approval. Even if your HOA regularly approves solar installations, they can change from year to year. And even if an HOA can't stop you from installing solar, they may have the right to influence your design. 

 

Enlist your neighbors for help 

If your HOA has stringent restrictions on solar or has declined your request, ask your neighbors for help. If you explain to them why you're going solar and ask for enough signatures to make a case, you'll have a strong chance of changing policy. HOA boards represent the people, so showing them that their members want solar should be your goal. 

 

Nonprofit solar advocacy group Solar United Neighbors has some great educational resources for HOA members who have difficulty getting approved. 

 

Present your case

 

If you live in a state with legal protection from restrictions and your HOA has existing guidelines, get your system approved and ensure your installer has access to the most updated version before the project begins.

 

You will need leverage to present a formal case to the HOA board. Be prepared to show the board signatures of other pro-solar neighbors. It will also help to explain that solar panels:

 

  • Save money for homeowners
  • Can be installed in unobtrusive ways
  • Have been successfully installed in other nearby neighborhoods with HOAs
  • Increase property values 

 

The Bright Idea

 

With solar becoming the preferred energy source for homeowners, states are passing laws preventing HOAs from restricting solar panel installations. Some of those states still afford HOAs the ability to limit the design of systems within reason. 

 

If you live in a state where laws do not protect your solar rights, you will need to get your panels approved by your HOA. In this case, you should understand your HOA's existing policies and find out what it would take to change them or consider an alternative arrangement, such as a solar easement. Enlisting neighbors to help you convince the HOA of the value of a solar system will be helpful. Understanding the benefits that solar can provide for the community is crucial so that you can explain them during a formal presentation. 

 

By understanding your legal rights and working with your HOA and community, you can successfully navigate the process of installing solar panels on your property. 

 

We're experts in navigating the process of installing solar in HOA communities. Request a quote from YellowLite today. 


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