Aurora residents accuse HOA of illegally blocking solar installations
Aurora homeowners in Colorado are facing roadblocks from their homeowner association (HOA) in their efforts to install solar panels on their roofs. Dick Cunningham and Walter Rozycki, both residents of the Villas at Cherry Creek, have been met with resistance from their HOA board despite state laws designed to protect homeowners’ rights to use solar energy. The board’s policy, implemented in 2021, includes rules that the residents believe are unreasonable and prohibitive, such as a blanket prohibition on leasing solar panels.
Attorney and solar advocate, Roger Freeman, who played a role in amending state laws known as the “Solar Bill of Rights,” has stated that the HOA’s rules are “clearly illegal and unenforceable under the law.” The amendment provides narrow exceptions to HOAs interfering with solar energy system installations, allowing for “reasonable restrictions” that do not significantly impact cost or performance. However, Cunningham and Rozycki have faced challenges and rejections from the board, including demands for extensive electricity usage records and insurance information, as well as suggestions for design changes.
The policy not only extends into aesthetics but also infringes on the technology and design aspects of the solar systems, according to Freeman. The prohibition on leasing options also restricts residents who cannot afford the upfront costs, denying them the opportunity to benefit from solar energy. Freeman emphasized that this personal decision has no relevance to aesthetics or safety, and the board does not have the authority to mandate buying over leasing.
While the HOA board maintains that it has followed state law in formulating its policy, residents continue to express frustration and concern over the restrictions. Rozycki, for instance, ultimately abandoned the leasing approach and decided to purchase the solar equipment due to the board’s inflexibility.
Instances of HOAs obstructing solar installation efforts have led to increased scrutiny, and the recent amendment to state laws serves to reinforce homeowners’ rights in these matters. Other HOAs, such as the Stoney Brook Homeowners Association in Denver, have revised their policies following the updated laws, creating a template that could have been used by the Villas at Cherry Creek. However, the suggestion did not gain traction within the Villas’ HOA board.
The ongoing conflict between homeowners and their HOA over solar panel installations highlights the challenges and complexities faced in adopting renewable energy solutions at the local level. It also underscores the need for clarity and alignment between HOA policies and state laws to ensure homeowners can exercise their rights to access and use solar energy.