For many homeowners, installing a solar energy system can come with a myriad of benefits – energy bill savings, an increase in home value and contribution to a cleaner environment, among others. But for many homeowners living in a Homeowners’ Association, or HOA, installing solar can have an additional layer of complication.
For those not familiar, an HOA is an organized group of homeowners within a particular subdivision or housing development. They usually have a board of directors that homeowners have elected to maintain previously set rules and regulations. Homeowners in the HOA pay dues that support community improvements. Some HOAs are also very restrictive on what a homeowner can do with their building or property, including rules around paint color, home and yard maintenance and other topics.
HOAs may have specific rules around solar, ranging from a complete ban to certain restrictions. More commonly, HOA covenants don’t include any information on solar, but require any modifications to be approved via an Architectural Control Committee (ACC). ACCs often deny solar installations based on personal preferences of committee members and preconceived biases against solar. Sometimes HOAs have required homeowners to go beyond the usual requirements for home modifications, like requiring petition signatures in support of the solar install from neighbors. For many homeowners, starting any controversy with their neighbors and HOA is simply not worth it, so they drop their pursuit of solar energy altogether.
This affects a lot of potential solar owners. According to iProperty Management, as many as 53% of all homeowners in the US live in HOA communities, and this number may be increasing, as 80% of newly constructed homes sold in 2020 were part of HOAs. In Missouri and Illinois, EFS Energy’s primary service areas, 22% and 45.5% of homeowners, respectively, live in HOAs.
However, the good news is that Illinois, and now, Missouri, have laws on the books to ensure that HOAs cannot outright prevent a homeowner from going solar. Illinois’s Homeowners’ Solar Rights Act went into effect in 2011, preventing HOAs and community associations from blocking solar energy systems. In 2021, the Illinois Legislature added an amendment to the law to make it easier for people in HOAs to go solar. This amendment expanded provisions to include batteries, ensured homeowners could install solar on any roof face, and shortened the timeline in which HOAs must respond to applications.
Just this year, the Missouri governor signed a similar bill into law. Like Illinois, the Missouri law prevents HOAs from banning solar. Instead of bans or a complete lack of guidance, Missouri HOAs can set “reasonable restrictions” that do not impair the functioning of the solar panels. This rule currently only applies to roof mounted systems, so HOAs could prevent a homeowner from placing solar in their yard. However, it’s still a huge expansion of homeowner solar property rights and a big win for solar owners and installers. Whether you’ve previously been denied solar by your HOA, or are looking into it for the first time, now is a great time to reach out and learn about the solar opportunities available for your home (plus,the federal government just increased the solar investment tax credit to 30%)!
Thanks to this legislation in both Missouri and Illinois, many homeowners have a clearer cut path to going solar. Instead of putting up obstacles and pitting neighbors against each other over personal biases and outdated notions of solar aesthetics, HOAs can now become a better partner in the clean energy transition and in helping their members save on energy.
Reach out to EFS Energy for a free solar quote, help navigating HOA application processes, and even to discuss solar-friendly policies your HOA can adopt!