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Homeowner furious after HOA allegedly denies their solar panel request illegally: 'You have solar access laws on your side'

"My HOA doesn't have a solar policy in place."

Installin solar panels

Photo Credit: iStock

One Redditor claimed they had just applied for solar panel installation with their Southern California homeowners' association (HOA) and had been rejected — possibly illegally.

Solar panels are a common source of conflict between homeowners and HOAs. Many HOA board members worry that solar panels will hurt property values, even though studies have found them to actually raise home value.

For the resident, investing in solar can reduce or eliminate electric bills, as well as keep the lights on during power outages impacting the greater energy grid, making them a smart move in many ways for homeowners, the Department of Energy says

Using solar energy to power a home also causes less pollution and is far gentler on the environment than dirty energy sources like gas and coal.

In some areas, the law is on the homeowner's side. For example, California, where this Redditor claims to live, has the Solar Rights Act, California Civil Code 714. 

Under this law, "any covenant, restriction, or condition" set by an HOA "that effectively prohibits or restricts the installation or use of a solar energy system is void and unenforceable." There are exceptions for "reasonable restrictions," but HOAs can't raise the price of the system by more than $1,000 or lower its efficiency by more than 10%.

That didn't seem to stop this Redditor's HOA, however. 

"My HOA doesn't have a solar policy in place," they wrote in a post on the r/solar subreddit. "I submitted a general architectural request for solar, under what rules are in place now for things that don't have a specific policy, and they just denied it." The user then asked what they could do next.

Commenters were quick to refer to the law. "They can't stop you in CA," said a user who identified themself as a residential solar project manager. "You have solar access laws on your side."

"The simple threat of engaging with legal counsel may change their tune," said another user. However, they also added, "What I did for our board was to volunteer to work with them, so my project could be used as the 'template' for how and what future projects need to follow."

The original poster said they would email their HOA about the decision and promised to post an update with any developments.

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