One new homeowner in Pennsylvania recently found this to be the case when they attempted to install solar panels on their own roof. They shared the saga on Reddit, seeking advice.
“Moved into a community still under construction in July of this year. Board is builder controlled but has no bylaws pertaining to Solar. Bylaws do allow for satellite dishes on the roof so I assumed this would be a no-brainer… “ they wrote. Unfortunately, the HOA denied the request on the grounds that “the solar panel installation would negatively impact the community aesthetic.”
The original poster didn’t give up there, though. They went through the process of protesting to the property management firm and turning in a petition with the required signatures, before being denied again with no further justification.
Obviously, this was quite frustrating.
“Does it sound legit or am I being played because the builder controlled board doesn’t want to address any architectural requests?” they wrote.
Not helping their case was the fact that Pennsylvania, unlike some other states, does not have solar access laws that prevent overzealous, anti-environmental HOAs from preventing homeowners from installing solar panels.
But they still persisted, and finally, after the HOA board switched from builder-controlled to homeowner-controlled, they got the approval they needed.
“I continued nudging this topic along and now the new board made the case for silent addendum since our declaration has no specific verbiage on solar panels. The installer is coming out for a home inspection in a few weeks!” they wrote in an update.
The commenters on the Reddit thread were appalled at the HOA’s behavior, and a few had some creative ideas for how to combat it (which turned out not to be necessary).
“Put in an application for a 75’ ham radio tower. They legally can not deny that. Tell them you’ll consider not installing that if you can look into amending the bylaws. And if they still say no. Attach the solar panels to the radio tower,” wrote one commenter, probably facetiously.
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