Current codes in Washington addressing homeowners associations and solar panels
The permission of solar panels within a homeowners' association is addressed in 64.38.055 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) which is the compilation of all permanent laws now in force. Read rules referring to solar panels in the context of HOAs. Read the rules in addressing Homeowners Associations.
Laws, Guidance, and Model Resolutions for HOAs in Washington and Oregon
Kathleen Kapla, attorney with Keyes Fox & Wiedman LLP whose firm has been been engaged with Spark Northwest and other stakeholders on the Northwest Solar Communities effort in Oregon and Washington presented on rules for homeowners associations (HOAs) as they relate to solar installations in their communities at the March 4, 2015 Solar Washington General Meeting. Download her presentation (PPT) addressing the laws, guidance and model resolutions for HOAs in Washington and Oregon.
Also available is the Solar Ready Toolkit Catalog (PDF) provided by Northwest Solar Communities which addresses solar relating to homeowners associations, condominiums, solar-ready construction and more.
Following is a synopsis provided by Stuart Yarfitz, who presented at Solar Washington's March 4 General Meeting. Solar Washington thanks Stuart for his contribution.
Below are two documents from the Department of Revenue on requests from the Puget Ridge Cohousing Association (PRCA) for rulings on whether and how PRCA, which is a condominium association incorporated in WA, would be eligible for renewable energy system cost recovery incentive payments.
The first ruling, PRCA DOR Ruling Association (PDF), dated Dec 2, 2014, was in response to two separate requests which in some ways were in conflict with each other: 1) eligibility for incentive payments when individual members owned or co-owned the buildings and PV systems. 2) eligibility if the association itself, acting on behalf of the members, owned the buildings and systems. This ruling was unsatisfactory because: 1) it limited the individual owners to the buildings in which their units were physically located. 2) it limited the association to a $5,000/yr. limit on the system as a whole. This ruling was based on an incorrect assertion on our part that PRCA owned the buildings, when in fact the buildings are owned in part by each of the members - the association itself does not own property.
The second ruling, PRCA DOR Ruling Individual (PDF), dated Feb 10, 2015, was made in response to a new request with two questions: 1) does partial ownership in the condo property by association members entitle them to receive incentive payments of a system in which they are also partial owners? 2) can each owner receive up to $5,000/yr.? The request was accompanied by a letter from our attorney, who is a condominium specialist, clarifying that each homeowner owns a unit within the property, and the owners collectively own all of the property which is not within the unit boundaries. The condo association itself holds no interest in the property. The ruling was exactly what we were hoping for, and enables us install PV on all of our south-facing roofs, including the Common House, regardless of whether the system owners' units are located in the building on which the system is installed. The continuity of ownership criteria is met by partial ownership! Also, each partial owner of a system is entitled to $5,000/yr.