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Homeowner learns about legal loophole that limits authority of HOA to deny money-saving home upgrade: 'This can't be disputed'

"I would still request their approval as a formality, even though they can't really say no."

"I would still request their approval as a formality, even though they can't really say no."

Photo Credit: iStock

Greenlight or red tape? As climate consciousness grows, more people want to install rooftop solar panels, xeriscape yards, or make other changes to live sustainably and cut costs. However, outdated HOA rules often create obstacles.

Case in point: a recent Reddit post is sparking discussion around homeowners associations limiting residents' ability to make environmental upgrades.

The Redditor explained that their California HOA's covenants require approval for any external changes that would alter a home's appearance. However, state laws restrict HOAs from outright denying solar installations and only allow reasonable modifications that don't slash efficiency or spike costs.

"I'm unsure if I still need written approval, even if [it's] a formality," the Redditor said.

Already, the Reddit poster's requests to inform the board of their planned solar project have gone unanswered.

"I have emailed by HOA twice now just to inform them about the planned solar install and they have not responded," the Redditor said. "Any guidance would be appreciated."

This story is just one example of how HOAs across the country have hindered money-saving, eco-friendly home improvements. From desert-appropriate plants to energy-efficient windows, HOAs can reject changes that lower carbon footprints. Ultimately, obstructing these updates hurts both residents and the environment.

HOA leaders may cite maintaining neighborhood aesthetics, but as climate realities evolve, so must community guidelines. We must make way for sustainable progress. With some HOAs levying fees of up to $1,000 per month, residents should have the right to cut costs through conservation.

If you face similar roadblocks and want to work with your HOA to overcome them, see our step-by-step guide for working cooperatively toward revised standards. Together, we can overcome inertia through compassion and creativity.

As one Reddit commenter advised, "Do the contact one more time, do registered mail, return receipt. This can't be disputed… I don't know of a single time [HOAs] won [blocking solar]." 

Another noted that while HOAs can still fine residents, homeowners have legal grounds to pursue installations without formal approval: "So I would still request their approval as a formality, even though they can't really say no."

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