B.N. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a Planned Unit Development (PUD). We have electric heat which is very expensive. Solar panels were brought up to the board members months back. They said that they would check into it. We never heard anything back. Nothing in writing. So I place a call and I am told that one attorney approved the panels and one didn’t. This was not disclosed to us in writing, nor have the bylaws been amended. There is one homeowner that has them supposedly illegal. My question is if I have any recourse. I really need a less expensive way to heat my home!
Mister Condo replies:
B.N., PUDs are no different than condominiums or other HOAs when it comes to the Board’s governance of the association and its adherence to architectural compliance, which is where the solar panel discussion usually goes. The Board argues that the governing documents call for no exterior modification to the common elements while the unit owners inquire about their “right” to install solar panels. The reality is that the association has the ability to modify their architectural guidelines to allow solar panels but many choose not to because they are concerned about the potential eyesore of solar panels and their potential neglect over time. I am not sure why or how the attorneys were involved in this process but it appears that they did not reach a consensus on whether or not the association could even approve their use, let alone modify the governance documents that would allow their installation. Until or unless the state law changes that would supersede your governance documents, the Board has every right to prevent their installation. Also, the Board has every right to go after any individual unit owner for installing them and force their removal at the unit owner’s expense. The units were constructed with electric heating in place. Unit owners, including you, knew that when you purchased your unit. Your need for a less expensive way to heat your home is very likely to go unfulfilled at this PUD. If the cost of electric heat is that burdensome, you may wish to consider moving to a community that allows solar panels. All the best!