While a homeowners' association (HOA) can't prevent you from installing solar panels in Maryland and Virginia, it's good practice to fill out the required paperwork to request the installation.
We recommend HOA residents proceed just like with any other construction on your property. Start by following the HOA rules and guidelines just like you would for any other type of project. Below are the laws for your reference.
The law in Maryland has protected the rights of homeowners to install solar photovoltaic systems. Section 2-119 (a) of the Real Property Annotated Code of Maryland states:
A restrictive covenant regarding land use may not impose or act to impose unreasonable limitations on the installation of solar collection panels on the roof or exterior walls of improvements.
In July 2020, a new law was passed by Delegate Jones Jay that clarifies the regulations for HOAs. It states, "HOAs cannot instruct the homeowner to make changes to a project that would increase the cost by more than 5%, or decrease the expected output by more than 10%."
The 2006 Code of Virginia § 67-701 also states that HOAs are not allowed to enact provisions that restrict solar power. It states the following:
A. Except to the extent provided in the condominium instruments, declaration, or rules and regulations duly adopted pursuant thereto, no community association shall enact any provisions restricting solar power or the use of solar energy collection device on units or lots that are part of the development.
B. The community association may prohibit or restrict the installation and use of such solar energy collection devices on the common elements or common areas. (2006, c. 939.)
Keep in mind that unlike storing a boat beside your home versus in back, or placing an antenna anywhere on the roof, location matters for solar. Solar production is dependent on how close to south it's facing. So if your HOA is resisting a front-of-house solar proposal at your location, but that's where the good production is, it's worth taking the time to help your architectural committee or board understand what's a stake for you. Use our post about optimizing your solar module placement for maximum energy production to help in your communication. They may come around once they realize what a difference location makes.
They may also ask for - or be willing to accept - images of solar installations your contractor has done in the past - situation on the front or side or the home, and may be positively impressed with how sleek and attractive they are. Check out the gallery on our website for great looking photos of our recent installations!
In most cases, keep in mind that we must still submit all HOA paperwork just like any other construction project. While HOAs in Maryland and Virginia cannot prevent a solar array from being installed, it is always a good idea they are aware of the installation and understand what is involved. That way we can work with them to get each system installed a little more quickly. Residential solar is beneficial for you and your community, and educating your HOA helps.