When purchasing a home in an HOA, you make a contractual agreement to adhere to certain rules and guidelines concerning the aesthetic of your property. These rules can pertain to simple elements like paint color, landscaping, lawns and porch décor, and larger alterations like decks, structural changes, or the addition of solar panels. So, what restrictions, if any, can an HOA place on homeowners when it comes to installing solar panels, and what rights do homeowners have when it comes to generating solar electricity?


A Brightening Trend 

Solar panels have gained great popularity in the past several years, and not just among non-association property owners. HOA homeowners have also become increasingly interested in the economic and environmental benefits offered by going solar. Solar companies promise decreased energy bills and often offer appealing tax incentives and rebates.


Does my HOA Allow Solar?

While many HOAs contain regulations prohibiting their members from installing solar panels, many states have in recent years passed legislation protecting homeowners’ rights to generate solar power. These laws generally fall under the following two categories:

  1. Solar Access Laws – These laws prohibit HOAs from preventing their members from installing solar panels while still allowing the association to place reasonable restrictions on the solar systems themselves, such as design or aesthetics.
  2. Solar Easements – A solar easement acts as an agreement between the property owners, their neighbors, and the HOA. It allows the homeowner to ensure that their solar panels operate at full capacity, and can specify things like requiring a neighbor to keep trees trimmed or preventing them from building an impeding structure.


Check your Association and State Laws

With several bills including provisions that protect homeowners’ rights to generate solar electricity on the horizon, the potential of seeing more solar panels in HOAs is increasing.

Before committing to solar, it’s important for homeowners to review their governing documents and state legislation. Even if a potentially outdated rule exists in your HOA prohibiting solar, your state may have legislation that overrides it. For example, in passing HB-362, Texas limited HOAs from restricting solar devices outright, as long as homeowners follow the required procedure for making improvements to their property. However, Texas Property Code lists conditions under which the HOA may deny the homeowner solar installation, including the location and placement of the panels, or if they were installed without prior approval.

While HOA rules and regulations can seem restricting, they are in place to protect homeowners and with the best interest of the community in mind. When considering large alterations or additions like solar panels, homeowners must do their due diligence to understand their rights and ensure that they comply with the proper installation process and secure the best possible outcome.


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