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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Preventing homeowner association disputes on solar panels

In any homeowners association, members are likely to disagree about what they think is or isn't best for the community as a whole. Knowing this, you can hopefully prevent disputes by getting one step ahead of the problem.

One area your members may argue about is the use of solar panels on homes. Some members may think they are worth it because they are better for the environment while others may believe they look tacky. Here are some suggestions for how you can hopefully prevent a dispute in the future.

Establish (reasonable) association rules

If you have not experienced a solar panel dispute yet, creating rules about solar panels now can prevent disagreements between members in the future. Poll your association members and see how they feel about solar panels and decide as a board how that feedback will impact the rules.

Once the rules have been finalized, distribute the association policy on the use and installation of solar panels (subject to change in California law, as seen below) and why those rules were set. Remember that according to Civil Code ยง714, homeowners are entitled to certain solar installations and boards are allowed to place reasonable restrictions that do not substantially increase the cost or decrease the efficiency.

Consider future solar panel laws

Senator Scott Weiner (SD11) introduced a bill earlier this year to require solar panels to be installed on most new buildings in California. It passed in the state Senate in May but appears to have stalled in a House committee in July. While there are no changes to the law yet, the possibility that the bill could pass may affect your association. If your association is looking to expand and add a new property, those houses may be required to have solar panels - whether members like their aesthetic or not.

Follow the trajectory of this bill and keep your members updated, so they know the decision is out of your hands.

Don't do it all by yourself

As an HOA board member, you have a lot on your plate, and the legal responsibilities you have to your board and your members can be exhausting. Consider leaning on an expert who can stay up to date on the latest laws and regulations regarding solar panels and how they affect your association.

These suggestions may not eliminate arguments between the board and association members, but you are less likely to have members knocking on each other's doors and having a row.

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