By Oregon law, HOAs cannot prohibit installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety, and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities. However, HOAs may establish “reasonable” rules related to aesthetics and placement of solar equipment. (RCW 64.38.055)
If you are part of a Home Owner Association (HOA) or live in a condo there are factors that affect your ability to install solar.
HOAs and Solar
When a homeowner resides in a community with an HOA, the HOA is typically involved in the homeowner’s decision to install a solar photovoltaic system (solar PV) on their property because modifications of the exterior of a home may affect the community and are governed by design or architectural provisions in the HOA Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&R). By state law in Oregon and Washington, HOAs cannot outright prohibit installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities. The Oregon Department of Energy has sought to clarify the law. You can access a letter from the Oregon Department of Energy on this subject here: HOA Letter from Oregon Department of Energy.
However, HOAs may establish “reasonable” rules related to aesthetics and placement of solar equipment. We recommend that HOAs expressly address solar PV in their CC&Rs so that future requests for approval of PV installations may be addressed quickly and fairly. Together with Northwest Solar Communities, we have developed more information on HOAs, solar, and CC&R recommendations. You can access that more information here: HOAs & Solar: Policy and Template Resolution.
Additionally, the Solar Foundation has released a 28-page guide, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, to educate homeowner association boards and other community leaders on strategies for bringing more solar to their communities.
Condos and Solar
Condominium owners and developers may want to install solar arrays for environmental, financial, and other reasons. However, barriers exist such as common ownership of roofs and other exterior spaces, metering methods and state laws. More and more condos are installing solar. Northwest Solar Communities has developed resources to assist condo owners and developers installing solar on condos in Oregon and Washington. You can access that resource here: Discussion Paper: Solar in Condominiums.