On August 21, 2007, Governor Jon Corzine signed into law C. 45:22A-48.2, which makes it unlawful for homeowners associations to prohibit the installation of solar collectors on certain roofs of dwelling units in a common interest community. This legislation, originally introduced in March of 2006, was passed by the Assembly in March 2007 and by the Senate this past June. The full text of this legislation can be found here.
As specified in the text of the legislation, homeowners associations may not prohibit members of a common interest community from installing solar collectors so long as such collectors are placed on the roof of a single family unit or townhouse unit that is not designated as a common element or common property in the association’s governing documents. In addition, the association may adopt reasonable rules and regulations to oversee the installation and maintenance of solar collectors with regard to: (1) the qualifications, certification and insurance requirements of individuals or contractors who install such solar collectors; and (2) the location, color, supportive structures and size of the solar collectors that may be placed on the roof. Further, the common interest community association cannot adopt any rule or restriction that would significantly increase the costs of the initial installation of the solar collectors or that would inhibit the solar collectors from functioning at their intended maximum efficiency.
It is important to note that this legislation does not affect the rights and responsibilities of condominium owners and boards pursuant to the New Jersey Condominium Act. In fact, because the roof of most if not all condominiums are designated as common elements or common property, the decision to install solar collectors on the roof of a condominium would have to be made solely by the condominium association’s board in its discretion. Any attempt by an individual unit owner in a condominium to install solar collectors on common elements would be in violation to the Condominium Act and, most likely, that association’s governing documents.