California Homeowners in Common-Interest Developments Now Have the Right to Install Solar in Common Areas Posted on Jan 09, 2018

Three months ago, a frequent stumbling block to going solar was overcome for California homeowners living in common-interest developments ("CID"), such as condominiums and planned developments. On October 15, 2017, AB 634 (Eggman) amended the CA Solar Rights Act ("Act") with respect to what restrictions governing documents and entities, such as homeowner associations ("Associations"), can impose on solar installation requests in the common areas of common-interest developments. The Act was amended with respect to common areas in CIDs to provide that Associations may not adopt a policy of prohibiting solar installations in common areas. Also, a 67% membership vote is not required to approve a homeowner’s request to install solar in common areas when certain criteria are met. The amendment also defined what types of restrictions on solar installation requests in common areas are allowed. Now, the Act prohibits CIDs from having 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 a garage or carport adjacent to that building that has been assigned to the owner for exclusive use. The Act also prohibits CIDs from requiring approval by a vote of members owning separate interests in the common interest development in those circumstances. The Act requires an applicant that requests to install a solar energy system on a multifamily common area roof shared by more than one homeowner to notify each owner of a unit in the building on which the installation will be located of the application and to require each owner to maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy. The new rules resulting from AB 634 are in addition to the Act’s other restrictions on CIDs, such as those found in Section 714 of the Act protecting homeowners’ solar rights on their separate interest property.

We have developed two documents for California contractors and homeowners who want to install solar in CIDs. These documents consist of an overview of the applicable rules and regulations that apply to CIDs in California and an appeal letter to CID governing bodies in the event a proposed solar installation is restricted or denied. Any action by a CID governing body that contravenes the California Solar Rights Act is void and unenforceable, so the solar rights of owners in CIDs is soundly protected under California law.

If you are a California contractor or homeowner running into difficulty in trying to install solar in a CID, you might find these resources helpful: