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Homeowner calls out HOA after receiving violation notice for solar panels: 'This is selective enforcement'

"Sounds more like an issue of grandfathering."

"Sounds more like an issue of grandfathering."

Photo Credit: iStock

One Virginia homeowner was enraged at what they felt was an unfair and possibly illegal decision by their HOA regarding their solar panels.

"My husband and I moved into our house in a newly built neighborhood," they explained in a Reddit post. "... When we first moved in, there was a company that was going around our neighborhood trying to sell solar panels to everyone. My husband and I were the first in the neighborhood to get our solar panels."

According to the Redditor, there was some back and forth with their HOA about exactly what was allowed. 

"HOA told the solar panel company that they were only allowed to put the solar panels on our rear roof and not the front," they recalled.

This HOA is one of many that has tried to put its foot down about solar panels. Though they save homeowners money and improve property values — and though they help reduce pollution from dirtier energy sources — HOAs often object because they feel solar panels are bad for the look of the neighborhood.

When the contractors finally did come to complete the project, the original poster believed that they'd finally gotten the approval they'd hoped for. 

"We had noticed they installed the front panels anyway and asked the solar panel company about that," said the Redditor. "They said, 'Don't worry… it was approved.' So I shrugged it off."

Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case, and the original poster received a violation notice for the front solar panels within a year.

Just one problem: they're not the only residents with solar panels in front. 

"Two of our neighbors got approved for having both rear and front solar panels," said the original poster, explaining that "they initially got denied as well for the front panels, but they brought up the Virginia Code."

After trying fruitlessly to argue the point with the HOA, which later "decided to amend their bylaws that state only the rear panels can be installed," the homeowner turned to an anti-HOA subreddit for help. 

"I'm pretty sure this is selective enforcement, right?" they said.

"It doesn't sound like an issue of selective enforcement," said one commenter. "Sounds more like an issue of grandfathering — your panels were installed before adoption of the rule."

Even if the rule did apply, though, the original poster would have options. HOAs have internal processes for changing the rules to better fit the wants and needs of the homeowners, and many people have successfully won over the organizations after reaching out. 

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