If you live in a condo, you may think that solar is beyond your reach thanks to homeowners association (HOA) regulations. After all, they didn’t approve that (tasteful) marble pink flamingo fountain you proposed.
While rules on the appearance of buildings and surrounding property can be a practical means of ensuring community members stay in step with one another, at times it can also be restricting.
It’s nice that front lawns are maintained and extra junk is hauled away in a timely fashion. But unfortunately, when it comes to something sensible and beneficial like solar panels, condo owners often have limited options.
Thanks to new laws, California HOAs can’t obstruct solar installations on their properties. This will help condo owners tremendously with solar adoption and its potential for clean energy savings.
How AB 634 Changes HOA Control Over Solar Installations
Under the new law, HOAs no longer have the authority to prohibit solar installations. They must conform to state solar policy.
Under Civil Code 714.1, if a condo owner wants to install solar panels on their own rooftop or adjacent garage or carport, HOAs can no longer prohibit them or require a member vote for approval.
If a condo owner wants to install solar panels onto a common rooftop, garage, or carport, a solar site survey could be required. This will determine the breakdown of usable space among all homeowners sharing the area designated for potential solar hardware.
If this site survey determines that a rooftop solar system would be impractical or if space allocation is impossible, the HOA could deny installation.
Furthermore, Civil Code 4600, solar installations are an exception to the rule requiring 67 percent of members to approve before the HOA grants use of any portion of a common area to a member.
This will make solar adoption in condos far easier and more likely for these shared-space buildings.
Homeowners’ Responsibility to Their Neighbors and the HOA
Of course, the new law doesn’t release homeowners in a condominium community from answering to those around them entirely.
New Civil Code 4746 notes that solar applicants in multifamily dwellings with common roof areas will likely have to notify each owner in the building of the proposed solar installation.
Owners (and anyone who owns the property in the future) who are applying for solar installation through the HOA might also be required to have homeowner liability coverage. They’ll likely need to provide the HOA with proof of insurance within 14 days of approval, and every year from then on.
Owners and successive owners of the solar condo property would be responsible for:
- Costs for damage to any common area resulting from installation/maintenance/repair/removal/replacement of solar installation
- Costs for maintenance/repair/replacement of solar installation
- Restoration of all common areas and separate interests if the solar system is removed
- Disclosing the solar installation to prospective buyers and all related responsibilities
It’s an exciting time to be a condo owner in California. Solar is more feasible than ever, and now it’s extended to those under the rule of homeowners associations.
Don’t forget that buying your solar system also makes you eligible for the Federal Solar Tax Credit, which is still at 30 percent until 2020.
Want to learn more about how HOA laws might affect solar in your California condo? Talk to a Pick My Solar energy expert today for more details.