The environment has garnered a great deal of attention over the past few years, which has led many homeowners to make improvements on their homes that help reduce their impact on the environment. This shift in focus has led to an unfortunate battle with some Home Owners Associations across the country.
Homeowners’ associations, or HOA’s, are much like mini government entities that oversee the maintenance and the selling of homes in a particular community. These organizations make decisions on behalf of the entire community, and enforce rules that all homeowners in the area must abide by. These rules have been chosen with property values in mind, and if a homeowner refuses to adhere to these guidelines, they can be evicted by the HOA.
Green home improvements are controversial in HOA communities. Green changes such as solar paneling can take away from the aesthetics of a home and therefore drop the property value of that home and the homes around it. Many HOA’s have in fact outlawed solar panels despite their environmental benefit, because of the risk they pose in terms of property value.
Some states, such as California, have reacted by making it illegal for HOA’s to block the use of solar paneling.
Hanging clothes out to dry is one of the most talked about green improvement issues. Many HOA’s around the country have banned the use of outdoor drying racks due to their unsightly nature. Again, if something isn’t attractive, it must be removed, no matter what benefit it offers. Homeowners have been outraged by this, particularly in the southern states, where they don’t want to run their dryer on hot summer days. The extra heat and the wasted electricity are two reasons that this rule is unreasonable, but HOA’s are focused on the bottom line, and on maintaining a certain image for their community.
Even something as small as placing a fan in the front window can be a bone of contention for HOA’s Despite the heat, and despite the effects on the environment, homeowners must use air conditioners to cool themselves down, simply to avoid giving their home a lived-in look.
For owners of historic homes, the battle can be even bigger. Homeowners must get improvements approved of before going ahead, or they face hefty fines and even eviction. HOA’s in historical areas want to keep properties harmonious with each other, and true to their time period. Adding energy efficient window panes or solar paneling to reduce energy bills are simply out of the question. Modern adjustments would reduce the value of the property, so these improvements are actually seen as a detriment to the whole community.
If you want to make green improvements to your home, you must either move to an area where you won’t be dictated to by an HOA, or else fight the powers that be, and try to create a more democratic and environmentally responsible system that all members of the community can live with.