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Homeowners baffled after HOA threatens to put lien on their home over simple modifications: 'We were looking to save money'

"There's got to be a way it can be worked out."

Jeff and Jill Terhune retrofitted their home with solar panels

Photo Credit: iStock

A couple in Wichita, Kansas, is facing the potential loss of their home over the solar panels they installed — even though they say they worked with their homeowners association to do it, KWCH reported.

Homeowners across the country have struggled with their HOAs about installing solar panels. These devices provide free electricity to homeowners without generating air pollution, making them good for residents and the environment.

But some HOAs restrict the installation of solar panels because they don't like the appearance of the equipment. Those bans can be enforced with fines and even liens against the property — which, in extreme cases, can result in the owners losing the house.

That's what Jeff and Jill Terhune are facing, according to KWCH. The couple had lived in their Wichita home for 10 years when they decided to install solar panels in 2020.

"We were looking to save money," Jeff told KWCH.

Reportedly, the couple applied to their HOA using the association's official approval process.

"It came back and said, 'Not on the front of the house,'" Jeff said. "I … spoke with their representative and said, 'The panels are going on the side of the garage, not on the front of the house,' and they reiterated, 'Not on the front of the house.'"

Based on that exchange, the couple thought they had approval to install their solar panels out of sight — which they thought they did, on the back of their home and the side of their garage, KWCH said.

"We have people, in fact, as recently as two weeks ago, try to sell us solar panels," Jill told KWCH. "That's how unrecognizable they are from the street, when you have solar panel companies trying to sell them to you."

Nevertheless, the couple received fines from their HOA starting in 2022, KWCH reported. "Started with 50 bucks, then it was $500 and it just keeps going," Jeff said. By early August, the total had reached over $3,000, and the HOA had sent a letter threatening to place a lien on the house.

In some states, the Terhunes would have a legally protected right to install solar. But Kansas isn't one of those states. Instead, the only option is to work with the HOA to get an exception or to change the rules.

"There's got to be a way it can be worked out," Jill told KWCH. "That's what we're hoping for somehow."

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