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Can homeowners associations restrict solar equipment?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2020 | Real Estate Law

The FSEC Energy Research Center at the University of Central Florida explains that Florida law generally allows homeowners to harness energy from the sun by installing solar equipment. 

State law prohibits covenants, deed restrictions and ordinances from banning homeowners’ installation of equipment to capture sunlight. For these purposes, permitted equipment includes solar collectors, clotheslines and other systems designed to capture and use renewable resources. 

Can an association require homeowners to seek approval of solar devices? 

If the governing documents of a homeowners association require an owner to seek HOA consent before installing a solar energy system, the homeowner must comply and request approval. Even though associations cannot prohibit these systems, HOAs may have some latitude to adopt reasonable restrictions on the installation of renewable energy devices. An HOA must enforce any such restrictions in a consistent manner against all homeowners in a subdivision. 

What restrictions may an association impose? 

Associations may not impose restrictions that impair a system’s efficiency, increase the installation cost or are so onerous that they effectively prevent homeowners from using solar energy: 

  • An association may not prohibit homeowners from installing solar collectors on their roofs. However, an HOA may provide input into the location on the roof so long as it does not require a placement that impacts the system’s operation. 
  • An HOA may not demand that equipment be a specific color to match roofing. 
  • An association may not require homeowners to mount collectors on the ground or in a spot hidden from view if such positioning would affect the system’s efficiency. 
  • An HOA may have limited ability to direct residents to plant trees or build fencing to screen solar equipment from the street. 

Courts have applied these rules in varied circumstances, including cases involving equipment like solar pool heaters and garage door screens.