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New homeowner grapples with archaic rules preventing money-saving home improvement: 'Your HOA can ban whatever it wants'

"I got a denial letter almost immediately."

“I got a denial letter almost immediately."

Photo Credit: iStock

One buyer in a new development in Greenville, South Carolina, was disappointed to discover that installing solar panels would be an uphill battle against their HOA.

HOAs frequently come out against solar panels on private homes. Although they improve home values, save homeowners money, and protect the environment by producing energy at no cost and without polluting the air, many HOAs are concerned that their appearance will detract from the neighborhood.

That can lead to tense situations, like an HOA defying state law or threatening direct action against homeowners who don't comply.

This Redditor's situation hadn't escalated that far yet, though. "I purchased a newly built townhome and the HOA hasn't yet transferred to the owners, since some building in the subdivision is still to be completed," they explained. "I wanted to install solar panels and after choosing a vendor and a design, I applied for HOA approval."

Despite going through the proper channels, they said that they had no cooperation from their HOA. "I got a denial letter almost immediately, saying, 'the standard for [the townhome community] is to not allow the installation of [solar panels],'" they said.

The Redditor wasn't sure that hard-line stance was even legal. "Is denial of solar panels by an HOA allowed in South Carolina?" they asked.

Sadly, it seems that it is. "Your HOA can ban whatever it wants," one commenter said bluntly.

Other users followed up to qualify that message, pointing out that the government has placed many restrictions on HOA powers. But one area that isn't restricted, at least in South Carolina, is solar panels.

"I Googled it, and South Carolina currently has legislation in the pipeline," said one user. Unfortunately, the bill that they linked to — H3979 — never passed the House committee, so any helpful legislation is likely to be a long time coming.

Other users offered options for more immediate action. "Once your HOA transfers to the owners, get yourself on the board and make a case for having solar panels," suggested one commenter.

It's also possible to work with the board to change the HOA's rules, even if you're not a member.

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