As I was perusing HOA headlines, I noticed an editorial written by the Desert Sun Editorial Board entitled Thumbs Down: Homeowners associations should allow solar panels on condominiums. The editorial slapped the Palm Valley Homeowners Association for not permitting a couple to install solar panels on the roof of their condominium. The roof is a common element and the Association is concerned about damage. While the couple has said they would accept full legal responsibility for damage, the Association doesn’t seem inclined to budge on the issue.
On July 28th, I blogged on a Breckenridge condominium association that had installed a solar thermal supplemental hot water system on the rooftop of the condo building. What is important here is the association installed the system on the roof it is responsible for maintaining. In the Desert Sun story, the homeowners are requesting to install panels on a roof which the association is responsible for maintaining, repairing and replacing.
Under Colorado law, as a general rule, homeowners’ associations are not permitted to prohibit the installation of solar energy devices. (C.R.S. 38-30-168) However, the statute does permit associations to prohibit the installation of these devices on “a limited common element or general common element. . .” In other words, condo associations can prohibit the installation of panels on roofs which are not owned by the individual homeowners. The reason for this is simple – the association is responsible for maintenance, repair and replacement of these roofs and should have the ability to protect these roofs from damage and destruction.
If a homeowner has requested permission to install a solar panel on general or limited common element, it is important to consult with legal counsel to determine whether this is permissible or appropriate. If your association wants to honor such a request, ask legal counsel about the advisability of first entering into a maintenance and indemnification agreement with the homeowner.