Back in 2012, as transmission of signals for television via satellite became more prevalent, and California homeowners and HOAs were in conflict over the ability of homeowners to install satellite dishes and antennae on rooftops, the Legislature stepped in and prohibited HOAs from establishing general policies that would prohibit an owner from installing rooftop antennae or satellite dishes. See Civil Code section 4725.

Lately, as solar power has gained traction as a viable (and now more affordable) means of power production, homeowners and HOAs are once again in conflict over the ability to install rooftop solar panels. Owners trying to take advantage of the benefits of solar power are running into CC&Rs that prohibit rooftop penetrations and other improvements to exposed surface areas or common areas.

The Legislature has taken action in 2017, and by way of AB 634, HOAs can no longer establish a general policy prohibiting the installation or use of a rooftop solar energy system for household purposes on the roof of the building in which the owner resides, or on a garage or a carport adjacent to the building assigned to the owner for exclusive use. See Civil Code section 4600(j); Civil Code sections 714.

This does not mean that owners have carte blanche to install solar systems. Associations still have the right to impose reasonable restrictions and to require that owners meet certain insurance requirements and remain responsible for certain matters, such as costs and damages due to the installation, use or maintenance of the solar energy system, especially when installed on a multifamily common area roof. Civil Code sections 714.1; 4746.

The trend toward more policies in favor of solar power continues, as the State is in the process of requiring that new residential construction include solar panels. This is still in the review and approval stage.

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