Updated April 2020
One of the most common questions we get from solar customers is: “Can my HOA prohibit me from getting solar on my roof?” The short answer is no, but it depends on your situation.
Virginia, DC, and Maryland are three of the forty states in the U.S. which have solar access laws that stop homeowner’s associations from preventing or unreasonably restricting the installation of solar panels. However, an HOA may develop certain “reasonable restrictions” in relation to the size, location, and placement of solar panels or restrict the installation of panels on common areas within the neighborhood. Although anything in effect prior to July 1, 2008 is not affected by these rules.
An HOA may enforce these restrictions if they do not significantly increase the cost, or significantly decrease the efficiency of the system. If the HOA’s requirements do cause these effects, you will need to show them the law and maybe even work with authorities to enforce your rights.
In early 2020 Virginia passed Senate Bill 504, House Bill 414, which goes into effect on July 1st, 2020. The purpose of this new legislation is to clarify the meaning of the phrase “reasonable restrictions” in Virginia law § 67-701. It declares any restriction imposed by an HOA which increases the cost of a solar installation by 5% or more, or reduces the production by 10% or greater, relative to the original proposal, to be unreasonable.
When considering solar, you should read your HOA contract and contact the board with any questions. Hopefully, you will find that you live in a neighborhood full of people as forward-thinking and environmentally-minded as yourself. If not, perhaps your passion and persuasiveness will change their perspectives!
Regardless of whether you live in Maryland, Virginia, or DC, it is important to let your HOA know of your intent to pursue a solar installation on your home very early in the process. You may even need to educate the HOA board on your rights. Your solar installer should be able to help you provide resources to do this.
The bottom line is that you should not let your HOA sway your decision to pursue solar energy. Maryland is a very progressive solar state and Virginia is catching up. You can potentially save tons of money with solar energy. Take advantage of your right to do so!