HOAs are notorious for refusing to allow solar panels. Despite how much money they can save homeowners and the benefits of this non-polluting energy source for the planet, old-fashioned HOAs are more worried about appearances.
However, California has Civil Code 714, the “Solar Rights Act.” This law strictly defends the right of California’s residents to install and use solar panels whether HOAs like it or not.
It specifies that HOAs can’t refuse solar panel installation except for health and safety reasons, and they can’t place restrictions on the panels that significantly lower their efficiency or raise their cost. They aren’t even legally allowed to drag out the approval process beyond 45 days.
That seems clear, doesn’t it? Yet this Redditor alleged that their HOA violated multiple parts of the law.
“First time homeowner here,” the Redditor said. “We have a single family home in HOA community … and were looking to install solar panels in late May after receiving approval from the county. Enter HOA.”
According to the original poster, their HOA took more than 40 days to even grant a “conditional approval.” The “condition” was that the Redditor hide all the conduits to the solar panels, which would drive up the cost by $1,100, an amount higher than the legal limit.
“HOA offered to pay us $101 and still not budge on [the] requirement of routing conduits through [the] attic as, as per the CC&R, it’s ‘unsightly,’” said the original poster.
The HOA also asked for multiple types of insurance coverage and liability waivers, most of which weren’t possible, the Redditor claimed — and all the while, the association refused requests for information and rulings.
“It’s been three months since receiving initial conditional approval and our installation is still blocked by all these non-standard asks and requirements,” the Redditor said, before asking whether they could take legal action against the HOA for trying to circumvent the Solar Rights Act.
“Wow. I thought ours was restrictive,” said one commenter. “Can’t be seen from any neighbor or from any street view. … Can’t be free standing. Plus county rules.”
“My read, as a layman here … is you may well have legal recourse here,” said another user. “Consult an attorney, make sure your bases are covered.”
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