Virginia HOA Rules

Philip Weston

Key Factors

  • Authorized Provisions Relocation: Virginia’s restrictions on photo voltaic panel prohibitions by associations have moved to new sections (55.1-1951.1 and 55.1-1820.1) below the Condominium Act and Property House Owners’ Affiliation Act, efficient from October 1st, 2022, without substantive adjustments.
  • Photo voltaic Panel Rules: Neighborhood associations can’t outright ban photo voltaic panels except within the recorded declaration. In any other case, they’ll impose “cheap” constraints on dimension, location, and placement technique.
  • Goal Normal for Reasonableness: Photo voltaic panel restrictions are deemed unreasonable in the event that they improve prices by over 5% or cut back vitality manufacturing by over 10%. Owners can problem, however want documentation from an authorized photo voltaic panel design specialist.
  • Prohibitions on Frequent Areas: Associations can forbid photo voltaic panels in widespread areas, lowering legal responsibility. Architectural critiques will be mandated to make sure compliance and authorized counsel are really useful in unsure conditions.

Photo voltaic Panel Restrictions Discover a New Location

Ranging from October 1st, 2022 please notice that the authorized provisions limiting associations’ authority to ban photo voltaic panels (and different photo voltaic vitality assortment units) have been relocated inside the Virginia Code. The restrictions beforehand outlined in Virginia Code Sections 67-700 and 67-701, referred to as “Covenants Proscribing Photo voltaic Power Assortment Units,” have now been moved to the Condominium Act and the Property House owners’ Affiliation Act, recognized as new Sections 55.1-1951.1 and 55.1-1820.1, respectively. This relocation was enacted by an invoice handed throughout one of many 2021 Particular Periods of the Normal Meeting. Importantly, there have been no substantive adjustments to those statutory restrictions; it was merely a switch of present provisions to a unique part of the Virginia Code.

Photo voltaic Panel Rules and Pointers

In Virginia, group associations are typically unable to forbid the set up of photo voltaic vitality assortment units, comparable to photo voltaic panels, on a proprietor’s property except the affiliation’s recorded declaration explicitly establishes such a prohibition (discuss with Virginia Code Secs. 55.1-1820.1 and 55.1-1951.1). In accordance with these statutes, if an affiliation intends to fully prohibit photo voltaic panels inside the group, the recorded declaration should explicitly state this prohibition. The statutes don’t allow a strict ban on photo voltaic panels by board-adopted guidelines or rules for individually owned properties.

“Affordable” Constraints on Dimension, Location, and Placement Methodology as Per Statutory Allowance

Neighborhood associations retain the authority to impose cheap restrictions on the dimensions, location, and technique of inserting photo voltaic panels on individually owned properties, even when the recorded declaration doesn’t expressly tackle photo voltaic panels. The statutes clearly state that group associations can set up cheap restrictions associated with the dimensions, location, and technique of inserting photo voltaic vitality assortment units. Potential restrictions could cover points like board-adopted guidelines and rules governing the visibility, amount, and dimension of photo voltaic panels, screening necessities, and permissible areas.

Whereas associations have the appropriate to manage these points, such restrictions could face challenges if deemed unreasonable below the related statute. Each Part 55.1-1820.1 of the Virginia Property House Owners’ Affiliation Act and Part 55.1-1951.1 of the Virginia Condominium Act define a goal customary for what constitutes a “cheap” photo voltaic panel restriction. This custom could considerably restrict a group affiliation’s capacity to manage photo voltaic panels except there’s an express prohibition within the recorded declaration.

In accordance with each statute, a restriction is taken into account as unreasonable if it both:

  • Will increase the set-up value of the photo voltaic vitality assortment system by greater than 5 % (5%) over the projected value of the preliminary proposed setup.
  • Reduces the vitality manufacturing of the photo voltaic vitality assortment system by greater than ten % (10%) beneath the projected vitality manufacturing of the preliminary proposed setup.

This goal customary of reasonableness could make it comparatively simple for owners to problem particular restrictions. As an illustration, restrictions mandating the set up of photo voltaic panels solely on the rear roof or prohibiting them on the entrance roof might be efficiently challenged if the entrance roof receives adequate daylight. This would possibly pose difficulties in implementing restrictions that will in any other case be thought of as cheap (e.g., allowing photo voltaic panels solely on the rear aspect of the lot/unit) in certain circumstances.

Challenges by Owners Relating to Restriction Reasonableness

It’s important to notice that the duty falls on the home-owner to contest the reasonableness of such restrictions, and associations retain the appropriate to ascertain and implement restrictions on the dimensions, location, and technique of inserting photo voltaic panels except a home-owner efficiently challenges them. To efficiently contest the reasonableness of a photo voltaic system restriction within the affiliation’s guidelines and rules, a home-owner should current:

  • Documentation ready by an unbiased photo voltaic panel design specialist who’s:

The documentation should meet the affiliation’s satisfaction and exhibit that the restriction is unreasonable primarily based on the factors talked about earlier (i.e., a value improvement of greater than 5 % (5%) or a vitality manufacturing discount of greater than 10% (10%)). An affiliation can demand this documentation from a proprietor intending to put in photo voltaic panels in battle with established guidelines and rules earlier than set up. Neighborhood associations aiming to safeguard their architectural requirements ought to insist on such documentation earlier than accommodating proprietor requests in these situations.

Prohibitions on Frequent Space and Frequent Parts

Neighborhood associations retain the authority to forbid the set up of photo voltaic panels on widespread space and customary ingredient property, no matter whether or not such a prohibition is printed within the recorded declaration. Proscribing house owners from putting in photo voltaic panels in these shared areas is usually really useful as a result of the heightened danger of legal responsibility to an affiliation and potential increase in insurance coverage prices related to permitting house owners to make use of widespread areas or components for photo voltaic panel set up.

It is probably not inside the board’s jurisdiction to allow a proprietor unique use of a part of the widespread components or widespread space. Boards of administrators ought to totally talk about the implications of photo voltaic panel installations on widespread areas or components earlier than approving any requests or coming into agreements with photo voltaic panel set-up contractors.

Architectural Assessment Procedures

One other essential consideration is that associations can nonetheless mandate house owners to endure the usual architectural evaluation course to ensure adherence to the affiliation’s restrictions and established procedures. The affiliation retains the authority to reject software for photo voltaic panel setup if the proposed design fails to align with the affiliation’s covenants and architectural requirements.

Whether or not the affiliation will be compelled to simply accept a proposed photo voltaic panel setup depends upon (i) whether or not the recorded declaration explicitly prohibits or restricts photo voltaic panels and (ii) whether or not the proprietor can present further documentation from an NABCEP-certified photo voltaic panel design specialist, demonstrating that the board-adopted restrictions are unreasonable below the related statute.


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