Homeowners associations and solar access in Minnesota
Minnesota protects your right to go solar from HOA roadblocks
In the 2023 legislative session, Solar United Neighbors and allies successfully advocated for a state law giving many homeowners in a homeowners’ association (HOA) the right to go solar. As of July 1, 2023, Minnesota is one of the 28 states where HOA’s must allow solar. Because one in four Minnesota homeowners live in an HOA, this law ensures that rooftop solar will continue to grow in our state.
If your HOA already allowed solar installations, nothing has changed for you. However, if you find yourself running up against prohibitions or restrictions on solar installations, this new law is for you!
Minnesota HOA homeowner Right to Go Solar Statute
Who the law applies to
The law applies to you if you belong to an HOA and live in:
- A detached home if you are the sole owner and are responsible for the roof maintenance or
- A multifamily unit if you are the sole owner and responsible for the roof maintenance.
What it ensures
These HOA homeowners cannot be denied solar by the HOA as long as they follow rules set by the HOA. The HOA is limited in what those rules can be.
Some limited restrictions are allowed
HOAs can still impose some restrictions but those restrictions can’t raise your cost of installing solar by more than $1,000 or reduce your system’s production by more than 10%.
- An HOA could not require that your solar not face the street if that is the most productive placement for solar on your home. This would reduce production by more than 10%.
- An HOA could require that your solar panels not go above the peak of your roof, that they follow the plane of the roof, or that you use a licensed contractor.
In general your HOA has 60 days to approve or deny your project. If no action is taken in 60 days then it is considered approved.
- The timeline may be extended if the HOA determines that additional information is needed to make a decision. The HOA must request additional information in writing within 60 days from the receipt of the application.
- If the request is made within 15 days of when the application was received then the HOA has 60 days from the date of receipt of the additional information.
- If the HOA makes the request more than 15 days after the initially received application, the HOA has 15 days after they receive the additional information or the end of the initial 60 day period, whichever is greater.
How to get approval from your HOA:
- Make your request in writing.
- Use your HOA’s “Architectural Review Form” if they have one.
- Make sure to include:
- Pictures that show where on the roof or property the panels will be installed.
- The size of the solar array in kilowatts, number of panels, the estimated kWh per year of electricity generated and cost of the proposal. All of this should be in your proposal.
- The name of your solar installer and their contractors license number.
- A copy of the interconnection application submitted to the electric utility. You will need to get this from your installer.
Note: Your solar application should be processed in the same manner as an application for an architectural modification to your property and by statute cannot be willfully avoided or delayed.
An Example Statement For Your Application
Use this statement or write your own in your application to your HOA:
Attached is my application to install solar on my home. Minnesota Statute 500.216 gives me the right to install solar as my home is a detached dwelling and I am responsible for the roof maintenance. The statute limits restrictions the HOA can impose to ones that do not increase the cost of the solar by more than $1,000 or reduce the solar production by more than 10%. In addition, the HOA has 60 days to act on my request or is deemed approved. This timeline may be extended if you require more information from me. Please, let me know in writing as soon as possible if you need more information. Solar energy has been shown to increase the value of a home and I think the addition of solar is an improvement not just to my home but improves the appeal of our HOA as well. I look forward to working with you on the approval process.
For HOA’s that do not have a clear process established you should submit the above information to the president of the HOA.
What if I live in an attached unit that isn’t covered by this new statute?
We’re working to improve the law in the future. Share your situation with us by emailing MNteam@solarunitedneighbors.org.
And remember, your HOA may still allow you to go solar.Here’s our guide on how to approach them
Need help with going solar? SUN is here.
Reach out by emailing MNteam@solarunitedneighbors.org.
Subdivision 1.Definitions.(a) For the purposes of this section, the terms defined in this subdivision have the meanings given.
(b) “Private entity” means a homeowners association, community association, or other association that is subject to a homeowners association document.
(c) “Homeowners association document” means a document containing the declaration, articles of incorporation, bylaws, or rules and regulations of:
(1) a common interest community, as defined in section 515B.1-103, regardless of whether the common interest community is subject to chapter 515B; and
(2) a residential community that is not a common interest community.
(d) “Solar energy system” has the meaning given in section 216C.06, subdivision 17.
Subd. 2.Applicability.This section applies to:
(1) single-family detached dwellings whose owner is the sole owner of the entire building in which the dwelling is located and who is solely responsible for the maintenance, repair, replacement, and insurance of the entire building; and
(2) multifamily attached dwellings whose owner is the sole owner of the entire building in which the dwelling is located and who is solely responsible for the maintenance, repair,replacement, and insurance of the entire building.
Subd. 3.General rule .Except as otherwise provided in this section and notwithstanding any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in a deed, security instrument, homeowners association document, or any other instrument affecting the transfer, sale of, or an interest in real property, a private entity must not prohibit or refuse to permit the owner of a single-family dwelling to install, maintain, or use a roof-mounted solar energy system.
Subd. 4.Allowable conditions.(a) A private entity may require that:
(1) a licensed contractor install a solar energy system;
(2) a roof-mounted solar energy system not extend above the peak of a pitched roof or beyond the edge of the roof;
(3) the owner or installer of a solar energy system indemnify or reimburse the private entity or the private entity’s members for loss or damage caused by the installation, maintenance, use, repair, or removal of a solar energy system;
(4) the owner and each successive owner of a solar energy system list the private entity as a certificate holder on the homeowner’s insurance policy; or
(5) the owner and each successive owner of a solar energy system be responsible for removing the system if reasonably necessary to repair, perform maintenance, or replace common elements or limited common elements, as defined in section 515B.1-103.
(b) A private entity may impose other reasonable restrictions on installing, maintaining, or using solar energy systems, provided that the restrictions do not: (1) decrease the solar energy system’s projected energy generation by more than ten percent; or (2) increase the solar energy system’s cost by more than (i) 20 percent for a solar water heater, or (ii) $1,000 for a solar photovoltaic system, when compared with the solar energy system’s energy generation and the cost of labor and materials originally proposed without the restrictions, as certified by the solar energy system’s designer or installer. A private entity may obtain an alternative bid and design from a solar energy system designer or installer for the purposes of this paragraph.
(c) A solar energy system must meet applicable standards and requirements imposed by the state and by governmental units, as defined in section 462.384.
(d) A solar energy system for heating water must be certified by the Solar Rating Certification Corporation or an equivalent certification agency. A solar energy system for producing electricity must meet: (1) all applicable safety and performance standards established by the National Electrical Code, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers, and accredited testing laboratories, including but not limited to Underwriters Laboratories; and (2) where applicable, rules of the Public Utilities Commission regarding safety and reliability.
(e) If approval by a private entity is required prior to installing or using a solar energy system, the application for approval (1) must be processed and approved in the same manner as an application for approval of an architectural modification to the property, and (2) must not be willfully avoided or delayed. In no event does a private entity have less than 60 days to approve or disapprove an application for a solar energy system.
(f) An application for approval must be made in writing and must contain certification that the applicant must meet any conditions required by a private entity under subdivision 4. An application must include a copy of the interconnection application submitted to the applicable electric utility.
(g) A private entity must approve or deny an application in writing. If an application is not denied in writing within 60 days of the date the application was received, the application is deemed approved unless the delay is the result of a reasonable request for additional information. If a private entity determines that additional information is needed from the applicant in order to approve or disapprove the application, the private entity must request the additional information in writing within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application. If the private entity makes a request for additional information within 15 days from the date the private entity initially received the application, the private entity shall have 60 days from the date of receipt of the additional information in which to approve or disapprove of the application. If the private entity makes a written request to the applicant for additional information more than 15 days after the private entity initially received the application, the private entity has 15 days after the private entity receives the additional information requested from the applicant in which to approve or disapprove the application,but in no event does the private entity have less than 60 days from the date the private entity initially received the application in which to approve or disapprove the application.