As the number of homeowners who have been turning to solar power as a source of clean, renewable energy continues to grow, people in certain neighborhoods have encountered problems due to the restrictions and regulations enforced in their communities. For those living in a community governed by a homeowners association, measures taken by the HOA can be the source of these hurdles. Although associations cannot deny solar applications for single-family homes, the HOA guidelines for solar on townhomes and condos can make the process more difficult.
To protect homeowners who want to integrate solar energy into their homes, the state of California has passed laws to protect them from restrictive regulations. One of these laws is the Solar Act, which allows townhouse and condo owners to purchase solar energy. However, there are certain guidelines that must be followed. These include the following:
● Solar energy needs to be equally usable. (This means that the energy collected from the solar panels needs to be divided by the number of units in the building so it is shared among all residents.)
● A legal document needs to be drawn up.
● The legal document must be filed and approved.
● The panels need to be purchased in full.
The application process, which will take at least 45 days to assess for approval, includes:
● Sending an application for installation
● Providing additional documents for the solar panels’ model
● An outline of the planned installation process
As we know, HOAs generally establish and enforce strict guidelines on external additions to maintain uniformity. This helps preserve a consistent and well-kept neighborhood while also limits unwarranted or negative interactions in the community as a result of aesthetic housing differences. With that being said, aesthetics can no longer be the reason for the disapproval of solar power.
California Law Revisions
The changes in the law state that any installation process or construction change enforced by an association cannot discourage the system’s efficiency or cost-effectiveness by more than 10%. The revisions also state that the re-installation cannot exceed the cost of $1000. These changes allow homeowners the right to request solar easements with their HOAs. A solar easement is a homeowner’s right to receive sunlight across the property for any solar energy device. It protects homeowners’ right to something some may have never realized they are entitled to, such as sunlight. Thus, any HOA-installed trees, streetlamps, or signs that produce shade that prevents sunlight from reaching the resident’s roof is something they can dispute. The updated laws now also protect neighbors who need to hire a branch-trimming service.
These revisions showed a significant increase in solar panel installations in California since the Solar Act of 2012 was updated. This proves the clamor for solar energy among homeowners.
For further information or assistance with updates on laws and codes, contact Atlantic & Pacific Management at (858) 672-3100 or visit aphoamgmt.com.