“So my HOA is pretty incompetent,” said the homeowner in a post on the r/HOA subreddit. “Lot of people that are from [the] community that don’t really go by the bylaws and really won’t approve anything if they don’t like it, even if [it] doesn’t violate anything.”
According to the Redditor, they applied to install solar panels. “They responded saying they have nothing in [the] bylaws about solar and will work on it,” the homeowner said. “[The] earliest they think will be spring, because they are too busy with other issues that they made.” They also asked the Redditor to submit their plans for architectural review.
What the homeowner heard from one board member cast more light on the situation, however. “One of the members did tell me there is [a] division on [the] board for solar. Some agree, some don’t,” they said. “So they are not really acting in good faith and just pretending like they want to seriously look at solar architecture approval, but don’t provide any feedback.”
As the original poster pointed out, being subject to theoretical future guidelines makes no sense. “I thought all that matters is current ones?” they said. “I was told their duty is to act in good faith about current bylaws and prove how I am violating them.”
Indeed, HOAs are bound by both their own bylaws and state laws — which is what makes changing the rules such a good idea when the association gets in the way of a money-saving home upgrade that’s also good for the environment.
Unfortunately, however, many HOAs have bylaws that give the board or a review committee a lot of leeway to decide what’s in and what’s out. They often use that power to deny solar panels, gardens, compost bins, and other eco-friendly developments.
The homeowner was frustrated enough to consider going around the HOA. “I know someone in another community built by [the] same builders [with] similar HOA guidelines; according to [the] user he just put it up without approval. He got fined $2,500. … They couldn’t do much.”
However, commenters suggested a safer option. “Check your state laws as well. In some cases, the ability of HOAs to put restrictions on solar panels is… severely restricted.”
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