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Homeowner baffled after antiquated HOA denies legally protected home alteration: 'Talk to an attorney'

"I'd start with my state representative on this particular matter."

"I'd start with my state representative on this particular matter."

Photo Credit: iStock

Solar panels are a surefire way to save money on electric bills, so one homeowner was distressed when their homeowners association shut down their request to install them. 

In the subreddit r/HOA, the homeowner explained that they live in Virginia, which has laws to protect people's ability to transition to the clean form of energy

They referenced a state law that deems HOA panel denials unreasonable if the decision reduces the energy produced by a solar device by "10% below the projected energy production of the initially proposed installation."

"Any [requests] are approved case by case. Any suggestion on how to approach this?" the homeowner asked.

Surprisingly, even though HOAs are concerned with protecting property values, the organizations have received numerous complaints after trying to prevent or penalize the types of upgrades that will do just that, from native lawns to pollution-reducing solar panels

The Appraisal Journal, for example, found that "home value increases $20 for every $1 reduction in annual utility bills," as reported by the U.S. Department of Energy, meaning that "a solar energy system that saves $200 per year would also add $4,000 to the value of a home."

Zillow's 2021 housing trends report also showed that nearly 70% of homebuyers rated energy efficiency as "very or extremely important." 

Several Redditors assured the OP that the law appeared to be on their side — based on the information they provided — and suggested that understanding their HOA's reasoning was a good place to start to win their case. 

"First, appeal the decision. If they still deny it, I would ask them for an explanation of why they are denying it considering the law," one person advised. "Next, talk to an attorney."

Another commenter pointed out that the HOA may be willing to find a happy compromise.

"I would appeal/ask for reasoning if it's not provided. The sole reason may just be [the] location of where you're wanting to install," the commenter explained, adding that they usually suggest alternatives if there's a request they turn down as a community manager. 

"I'd start with my state representative on this particular matter," another person suggested

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