98. Can my HOA refuse solar panels on my roof?

Solar panels cannot be refused – BUT (yes, there is always a but) you must follow the HOA’s guidelines and that’s where homeowners receive approval or refusal.

West Virginia §36-4-19. Solar energy covenants unenforceable; penalty. (effective June 2015)

The most important practice of any homeowner associations’ Board of Directors and their Architectural Committee must be reasonableness.

Typically, HOAs are responsible for developing solar panel guidelines, especially if and when they are not specifically outlined in the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions of which are generally aimed at restricting certain property uses of a homeowner and ensuring uniformity of appearance.

Whenever a homeowner is denied installation of solar panels (or any other requests) the homeowner has every right to appeal, and yes, retain their own legal counsel. TIP: homeowners’  DCCRs, Bylaws and Guidelines outline time frames for particular actions to be completed, such as 30-60-90 days.

“The problem arises in the context of the association’s architectural controls, commonly found in its declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). The developer creates these [D]CC&Rs to ensure the uniform appearance and preserve the ‘curb appeal’ of the project throughout its construction and build-out phase. After the development phase is completed, the responsibility for interpreting and enforcing the architectural controls is passed onto a Homeowner Association and its Architectural Review Committee made up of elected members of the community. In the hands of an overzealous ARC, [D]CC&Rs can become a straightjacket to solar development.”  Department of Energy 2016

(Subdivision developers/builders in most states after 2015 were smart in erecting new homes to take advantage of “positioning” for their new home buyers as a selling plus. We have all learned south facing is optimum in the northern hemisphere, and north facing is optimum in the southern  hemisphere for solar panels to be efficient.)