For some reason, homeowners associations love nothing more than flexing their power in order to prevent people from making planet-helping modifications to their own homes. In Hilltown Township, Pennsylvania, one couple’s dispute with their HOA over solar panels ended up in court.
Athena and Bob Bauerle installed their solar panels on the rear of their roof in compliance with the HOA’s policies, or so they thought.
The HOA pulled the rug out from under them, retroactively changing the policy and deciding that solar panels were not allowed under any circumstances — after all, who would want to passively generate clean, renewable energy, saving money and helping the planet at the same time?
The couple, having already invested money from their retirement accounts into the installation of the panels, responded by suing the HOA. There have been no further updates on what became of the lawsuit or of the Bauerles’ solar panels.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” Bob Bauerle said. “I will probably never, ever again live in a neighborhood with an HOA because of this.”
An article about the saga ended up being posted to a subreddit dedicated to horrible HOAs, where the commenters were dismayed but not shocked.
“We need federal legislation stating that roof solar panels cannot be banned by any authority, HOA or town or anything else. And put in some hefty fines for those who try to circumvent that legislation,” wrote one commenter.
“Bad thing is that their HOA payments are funding the HOA attorneys that are fighting his attorneys. He is paying for both sides,” wrote another.
If you are dealing with a similarly restrictive or problematic HOA, there are productive steps you can take, such as creating solidarity among your neighbors and challenging the HOA to change its rules as a collective.
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