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What Can Be Done About Solar Panels?

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If you are living in a Homeowners Association the Board or the Architectural Review Committee generally cannot prohibit the installation of solar panels (or “solar collectors”). A Florida law, F.S. 163.04, provides that any “deed restriction or declaration” or even any “similar binding agreement” may not prohibit — or have the effect of prohibiting — solar collectors (or clotheslines or any other energy devices based on renewable resources), from being installed on buildings or lots within the Association. Nor may the owner, in the absence of such restrictions, be denied permission to install solar panels or other energy devices. While the same laws apply to condominiums, the condominium unit owner’s right to install solar panels is limited to “within the boundaries of a condominium unit.” In most instances the roof is outside of the boundaries of the condominium unit and the statute would, therefore, not be applicable.

The Association may have some say where the rooftop solar collectors may be installed, installation must be allowed facing south, or within forty-five degrees east or west of a southward direction. Furthermore, the owner cannot be required to employ any concealment which would impair the function of the solar or energy system. The Association may require an application from the owner and may require the requisite approval for any such application for renewable resource systems, but that approval may not be denied if the requested installation is within the range of the limited allowable location and/or appearance adjustments. Finally, it should also be noted that in any litigation arising out of an owner’s application for solar collectors, clotheslines or other such energy devices, the prevailing party will be entitled to recover its costs and attorneys’ fees. When you receive a request for solar panel installation, you should consult with our community association attorney for guidance on how to proceed.

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