We all know how beneficial solar technologies can be. From cost savings to protecting the environment, many people want to invest in solar technologies to take advantage of free energy from the sun. There’s just one problem. Many states don’t have laws in place that restrict Homeowner’s Associations from making rules against investing in solar technologies. Unfortunately, some communities want each and every house to conform to standards to enhance the aesthetic beauty of their neighborhoods.
This is a crying shame because people who would otherwise take advantage of solar technologies to protect the environment, aid our economy, and decrease our dependence on foreign fossil fuels are unable to do so. Also, homeowners have run into trouble from various members of their communities regarding the removal of their solar panels. In fact, in May of 2014 a couple from St. Louis was told that they needed to remove solar panels from the rear-facing roof of their house. In the end, they were able to keep their solar panels after going to court, but these kinds of hassles are inconvenient and undesirable and they have prevented many people from investing in solar panels. Fortunately, things have changed in Missouri.
The Root of the Problem
The problem that so many communities experience is that they were built long before solar technologies were mainstream in residential areas. As such, they didn’t think to prohibit them. Before the latest ruling, this left some gray area since they weren’t specifically mentioned in property rights. Because solar panels are not specifically targeted in these types of documents, it is extremely challenging for a Homeowner’s Association to make a strong case against members of their community who have installed solar panels. Be that as it may, a few have tried in the past, but thanks to a new ruling many Associations will now be discouraged from attempting to force a resident to remove their solar panels.
Appellate Court Ruling
In October of 2015, a Missouri appellate court made a ruling that will have people who want to invest in solar technologies jumping for joy. Though it is natural for many people to have disagreements with their neighbors, residents of Missouri no longer have to fear an unruly homeowner’s association leader knocking on their doors to tell them to remove solar panels. The court essentially ruled against homeowner’s associations from forcing residents to remove their solar panels as long as there aren’t any deed restrictions on the property that specifically prohibit the installation of solar panels.
There is one caveat to this ruling, though. It lacks legal precedent, meaning that other courts won’t be bound to making the same decision in future cases. However, with that said, many feel that this was such a cut and dry case revolving around property rights that other courts would reasonably make the same decision. At any rate, people have more freedom to invest in clean energy technologies today than ever before.