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Homeowner builds case against HOA to protect their right to add money-saving home additions: ‘Laws are on your side’

“The HOA seems a little (very) disorganized.”

"The HOA seems a little (very) disorganized."

Photo Credit: iStock

One homeowner wanted to get ahead of any possible objections their HOA might have to their plan to install solar panels.

“I recently bought a house in [Massachusetts] that’s part of a development,” the homeowner explained in a post on r/HOA. “The house is a condominium and of course there’s an HOA. I’ve gotten a few quotes to install solar and am hoping the board will allow us to move forward. … The HOA seems a little (very) disorganized, and I’d like to be able to present the strongest possible case if we have to ‘convince’ them.”

It might seem like jumping the gun since the owner hadn’t even finalized their plan yet, but they had good reasons to be cautious. Homeowners associations are often against solar panels. Despite the benefits — they save homeowners money, can provide power during outages, raise the value of a home, and generate pollution-free power that is better for the environment — HOAs tend to be critical of the way they look and often deny applications to install them.

This time, however, the homeowner hoped they could make a case for the installation. “I don’t see anything in the bylaws specifically granting them authority to prevent any alteration/addition to the roof — but in any event, wondering whether this law would protect us?” they asked, linking to a section of the law on the state legislature website.

According to Massachusetts General Law Part II, Title I, Chapter 184, Section 23C, a rule “which purports to forbid or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of a solar energy system” is void. The law is clear, without any exceptions listed, so this Redditor’s only question was whether the law applied to their HOA.

According to commenters, the answer was yes.

“Solar access and easement laws are on your side,” one user said. “Your HOA can’t forbid you or put unreasonable obstructions. The law doesn’t seem to say what ‘unreasonable’ means — in California, this translates to anything that adds $1,000 to accommodate the restriction.”

“Seems pretty clear to me, you’re good to go,” another user wrote.

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