HOAs put solar panels under a cloud
Georgia development is the latest to argue that homeowners can't install roof panels to harness the sun's energy. In some states, associations don't have that right.
We've all likely heard stories about homeowners associations that leave us incredulous. They don't like flags. They don't like flowers. They don't like any number of decorative items that individual homeowners might choose to adorn their homes.
In Cumming, Ga., outside Atlanta, at least one homeowners association doesn't like solar panels. That's apparently a problem across the country, where associations say that solar panels mar the look of their communities.
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"It’s like living under communism — someone gets to dictate every possible thing you do," David Dobs told The Associated Press. He and his wife, Angel, have been trying to get permission since 2010 to put panels on the roof of their suburban home.
Their HOA board members argue that the Dobs family knew the rules when they moved in. "They chose to come into this community," board member Jim Graham told The AP.
The issue has been contentious nationwide. About half the states have laws that keep homeowners associations from banning solar panels, and some of those laws date to the 1970s. But an attempt to pass such a law in Georgia failed.
"They don’t like the way they look," Michael McQueen, the attorney who represented the Dobs family and has represented others in similar cases, told The AP. "And (homeowners associations) are all about looks. Is your lawn green? Are your hedges trimmed?"
The federal government encourages the use of solar panels; you can deduct 30% of the cost from your federal income taxes. Some state and local governments also offer tax breaks and rebates for installing solar panels. Those credits and deductions, plus declining prices, have helped make solar installations more affordable for the average homeowner.
In Salem, Ore., Larry Lohrman and a neighbor spent nine months getting their homeowners association to amend its convenants to allow solar panels, already legal under Oregon law. After their efforts, several more neighbors added solar panels.
"They’re just afraid that someone’s going to put up this big, honking ugly thing that reflects light and just looks ugly," he told The AP. You can see some photos of the installations on his blog.
What do you think? Should homeowners associations be allowed to ban solar panels?
dear HOA PRES FL
in case you haven't noticed, the home values IN FLORIDA are falling and falling. thank you HOA PRES.
for the record, home values prior to HOA's increased because of the market conditions - NOT BECAUSE OF HOA's.
florida is the worse when it comes to HOA's. it seems as though every board member is of the lowest intelligence and uses thier "position" to make themselves feel like better about themselves. it really is a very sad and pathectic site.
Just one more reason I will NEVER live in an area with an HOA. I simply refuse to pay to have a group telll me what I can and cannot do with my property. My wife and I have looked at several homes in the past few years. We live out in the country and the drive is a killer on cars when it's 100 miles a day or more round trip. Every house we have looked at we have to ask if there is a HOA involved and if there is we just say " Thanks you for showing us the house", and walk away.
In Colorado during a drought and heavy water restrictions, one HOA was forcing the home owners to face possible fines for over watering to keep their lawns green or face fines from the HOA. It’s insane when they feel their laws overwrite the laws of the land. HOA’s are a true form of socialism with a side of dictatorship thrown in.
Buying a house with an HOA is one of the most dumb things anyone could do, Notice I said house, a condo or a town home NEEDS a HOA because of the shared walls, roof, yard, etc. so you have to have something in place to collect the money needed for these shared responsibilities, but a sub division of single family homes does not need anything more than the city's code book the be a clean , nice neighborhood.
Of the 26 homes on our street 24 put up lights & decorations for Christmas, and now we have tour busses coming thru to view this non HOA neighborhood. Yes we might have someone with a race car trailer on the side of his house , but so what ,it is HIS house. We have solar panels, basketball nets a wide variety of landscaping,, and colors, all the things that make a house a home to THAT person, not what a committee deems right for the neighborhood.
When you live in a controlled community, gated or not, you are governed by the Deed Restrictions passed on by the developer. Deed Restriction vigilance is only part of that the HOA is required to do.
If your sub-division has a pool, tennis court, basketball court, pool shelter, common ground islands, baseball/softball field, or any other recreation areas, someone has to be the responsible party to take care of maintenance, insurances, capital projects, etc.
The HOA is the one who files the Corporate Annual Report, complies with state and local code requirements for safety on the common grounds, collects the assessments, etc. A good HOA is proactive and educates the homeowners. Obviously, there are bad HOAs, just like there are bad areas to live. Yes, there are power hungary Officers and Directors. I suggest becoming active and join the Board and be part of the decision making process. Many times getting new blood is difficult and Board members are often forced to stay long beyond their intended terms.
I am also proud to drive around our sub-division of 36 years and see a stable and clean environment free of jacked-up cars on blocks, commercial vehicles parked in driveways, yards kept neat , and crime free.
This is why our property values have remained stable. It is all relative.
In America, you have the choice . If you made the choice,
OK, clearly David Dobs is a moron (It would be like living in a dictatorship, dude.), but the HOA is a collection of morons. Any organization that is against alternative energy sources based on the appearance thereof deserves to be exiled to the sun.
I bought my own house so I would not have someone to tell me what I can and can't do. HOA's would defeat this freedom I have worked so hard for.
Why any one would buy a house with HOA's must be super rich and superficial or just superstupid!
Village-idiot2, HOA's keep folks like you from parikng 13 cars on the front lawn and thowin' your chicken bones out the window. HOA's help maintain property values of the neighborhood and if these folks didn't like it they shouldn't have moved in.
I definitely think homeowners should have whatever energy source they desire as long as it does not
cause harm to anyone. I think they are a wonderful natural source of energy and I think they actually add value to anyone home and are a status symbol. Anyone that would vote against it probably is jealous
that someone else can afford to do it. This is America Land of the Free. Homeowners Associations
may find themselves in trouble in the future as more and more homeowners decide the price of an
association is to high. I believe my land is my land..
Charlotte in S.C.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.