When Residents & Homeowners’ Associations Clash Over Solar Panel Installation
Florida is home to one of the largest populations of homeowners’ associations, and the main responsibility of these associations is to establish rules and regulations regarding how the community operates in order to ensure that property values stay at a certain level. As a result, there are inevitably a number of disputes that regularly occur between associations and members, who want to make alterations to their property, but cannot necessarily do so if the act violates those rules and regulations put in place to keep everyone’s property values high.
One of the issues that we as homeowners’ association attorneys regularly see involves homeowners wanting to put up solar panels. While the Florida Solar Rights Act forbids associations from prohibiting the installation of solar or other energy devices on buildings, associations may require approval of a system installations, and may put in place “reasonable” restrictions for those installations. Associations also cannot prevent the installation of solar collectors on roofs, nor can they impose restrictions that, in effect, impair the performance or increase the cost of the overall system. However, they can determine the specific location where solar collectors may be installed on the roof, as long as this does not impair the operation of the collectors.
Florida Code Leaves Reasonability to The Association
Still, the code leaves plenty of deference to associations to do what they need to do in order to ensure that solar panels and other devices are not installed so as to affect the value of surrounding homes. This means that a number of requests will have to be rejected if they do not conform with an association’s reasonable restrictions, such only being allowed to be installed on the back—not the front—of houses. In addition, some solar companies may determine that having to conform with an association’s rules mean that a project is going to cost more, which is also something that homeowners will occasionally challenge associations on.
Because the code does not define what “reasonable” means, this allows associations do what they need to do to protect and preserve home values in the association. And associations have that leeway to do so precisely because homeowners choose to purchase their homes within the association, already knowing what the rules are, as they are laid out in the covenants. In other words, they’ve already contracted to abide by those rules and regulations for the sake of their property values and those surrounding them.
Contact Our Professional Legal Team for Assistance
HD Law Partners provides the very best in legal advice and representation for Florida homeowners’ associations. If you have a question or potential dispute concerning an alteration such as solar panels or any other device, contact our Tampa homeowners’ association attorneys today to ensure that your association is properly protected.