I hear complaints about HOAs all the time. For the most part, they tend to be good and really have the best interest of the neighborhood or complex in mind when making decisions. There are a few horror stories as well as some others that just do not seem to understand that there are some rules you legally cannot make.
Can my HOA completely ban solar panels?
In Colorado, the statutes directly address “renewable energy generation devices.” This includes “solar energy devices” which are solar panels. The statues states there cannot be “unreasonable restrictions” which means if they are completely banned, the covenant is “void and unenforceable.” What does all of this legal language mean?
Many companies are advertising and installing solar panels on homes as a means of saving energy and money. It is a hefty upfront cost (usually) or a long-term lease or purchase (typically 20-25 years). Can you imagine putting them on your home at a great expense and then suddenly having your HOA say you cannot have them at all? In Colorado, HOAs cannot completely can solar energy. There are SOME restrictions that can be required, but not if those aesthetic restrictions:
· Significantly increase the cost of the device
· Significantly decrease the performance or efficiency of the devise.
Let’s say you have a south facing home. Many people in Colorado want that because the snow melts better in the front of your house. So what side of the home gets the most sun? Yep! It would be the south side so can an HOA state that solar panels cannot be placed on the south side of your home because it is on the side with the street? Not according to Colorado law. Placing the panels on another side, or especially the back/north side, of the house would probably significantly decrease the performance of the devise.
What if I want to put them in my yard in front of my house?
As long as the HOA approves it, you are probably fine but the HOA likely will require they be placed on your roof. Requiring they be on the roof would likely not significantly decrease the performance.
What if I don’t actually own the panels? My father has some panels and is just letting me borrow them.
Colorado law does not require HOAs allow your use of solar panels owned by someone else. If you own them or lease them with permission of the lessor, then the HOA cannot place unreasonable restrictions on their use.
Can I put in solar panels myself however I wish to if I have HOA permission to install?
Another reason an HOA can ban the placement of solar panels is if they do not meet “bona fide safety requirements, required by an applicable building code or recognized electrical safety standard, for the protection of persons or property.” This means even if your HOA gives you permission to install your panels, if they are not installed according to code, the HOA might be able to require you take them down if you do not get them to comply with the building codes or electrical safety standard.
Bottom line, put in a request to your HOA to have your panels installed. A good idea is to show the direction of the sunlight, have them installed by a certified installer who will install according to code, and be courteous of your neighbors and their safety and comfort when placing the panels. Many companies who install solar panels will work with your HOA directly in order to meet the requirements and get permission.
Although I am a Colorado licensed attorney, this blog is for information only and is not to be deemed legal advise. If you have legal questions or need legal help, please contact your attorney.
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