homeowners associations

Solar Panels in Homeowners Associations

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular, even in the cloudy Northwest. Oregon and Washington both have statutory provisions which apply to homeowners associations. In most cases, these statutes will override prohibitions in the CC&Rs related to solar panels. The best approach is to work with owners and develop reasonable guidelines for the installation of solar panels. Washington - RCW 64.38.055

Washington’s statute governing homeowner associations and solar panels states:

The governing documents may not prohibit the installation of a solar energy panel by an owner or resident on the owner's or resident's property as long as the solar energy panel:

(a) Meets applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local permitting authorities;

(b) If used to heat water, is certified by the solar rating certification corporation or another nationally recognized certification agency.

However, there are some restrictions that an association may place on the installation of solar panels. For example, the governing documents of the association may prohibit visibility of a roof-mounted panel above the roof line or require the materials and installation hardware to be color coordinated.

Oregon - ORS 105.880

Oregon’s law governing solar panels is not as broad as Washington’s. ORS 105.880 reads:

Conveyance prohibiting use of solar energy systems void. No person conveying or contracting to convey fee title to real property shall include in an instrument for such purpose a provision prohibiting the use of solar energy systems by any person on that property.

Any provision executed in violation of subsection (1) of this section after October 3, 1979, is void and unenforceable. For the purposes of this section, “solar energy system” means any device, structure, mechanism or series of mechanisms which uses solar radiation as a source for heating, cooling or electrical energy. [1979 c.671 §5]

Forest Heights Homeowners Association in Oregon has adopted and published a great set of guidelines for solar installations within the association. Click here to view.