As leaders of your community, you understand the concerns members have over rising electricity costs. Sustainable options such as solar panels are an environmentally savvy and cost-effective choice.
Although the state protects the citizens’ rights to use these energy-saving devices, homeowners’ associations (HOAs) still have the authority over how they fit within their communities.
The Texas Solar Rights Act
The Texas Solar Rights Act allows residents to harness solar energy while still respecting the guidelines set forth by their respective HOAs. As board members or directors, it is your responsibility to facilitate this transition by providing clear guidelines for solar panel installations.
You cannot deny residents their right to use solar devices, but it should be within your purview to supervise their placement and aesthetics. Residents must also seek the HOA’s approval before pursuing this type of home improvement.
Conditions that allow HOAs to restrict solar panels
An HOA cannot enforce provisions that prevent homeowners from using solar energy devices. However, HOAs do have the power to restrict solar devices if they meet one of the following conditions:
- Threatens public health or safety
- Located on property owned or maintained by the HOA
- Located on someone else’s property
- Extends higher or beyond the homeowner’s roofline or fence
- Does not conform to the slope of the roof or is not parallel to the roofline
- Contains a component that is not silver, bronze or black in tone
- Installed without the prior approval of the HOA
In addition, HOAs can dictate the most appropriate location for solar panels. If a resident wants to propose a different location, they must show how that new spot will increase the annual energy production of the panels by over 10%.
Respecting homeowners’ rights and needs while preserving the peace in your community is an art. One way to minimize conflict is to keep HOA regulations up to date and reasonable. An understanding of the state’s solar access law can guide you in how you approach solar panel installations in your community.