HOA cannot 'unreasonably restrict' use of solar, wind technology

Q: I live in a community that has an association. I wanted to install wind power and solar panels. My question is, can an association restrict a homeowner from installing wind power or solar panels, and if they can restrict me, can it involve minor details such as color? I have looked at NRS 278.0208 and NRS 116.2111, but I want to make sure.

A: NRS 278.0208 is entitled "Restrictions on Use of System for Obtaining Solar or Wind Energy Prohibited." It states that a governing body shall not adopt any regulation or take action that prohibits or unreasonably restricts the owner of real property from using a system for obtaining solar or wind energy on his or her property. In addition, any covenant, restriction or condition in a deed that prohibits solar or wind energy systems is void and unenforceable. The statute then defines unreasonably restrictive. An unreasonable restriction is one that places restrictions or requirements on the use of such a system which significantly decreases the efficiency or performance of the system and does not allow for the use of an alternative system at comparable cost with comparable efficiency or performance.

NRS 116.2111 subsection 2b4 states that an association may not unreasonably restrict, prohibit or impede or withhold approval for an owner to add to a unit a system that uses wind energy to reduce the cost of energy for that unit, if the boundaries of the unit encompass 2 acres or more within the community.

The law continues by stating that any improvement or alteration that is visible from any other portion of the community must be installed, constructed or added in accordance with the procedures set forth in the governing documents and must be selected or designed to the maximum extent practicable to be compatible with the styles of the community.

Finally, a unit owner may not add to the unit a system that uses wind energy unless he or she obtains the written consent of the owners of property within 300 feet of any boundary of the unit.

Here's the bottom line. A wind energy system can only be installed in communities where the boundaries of the unit is at least 2 acres or more -- the average community in Las Vegas would not meet this standard. In addition, all of the neighbors within 300 feet of the home must approve the installation of the wind energy system.

The installation of a wind energy system or the installation of a solar system will need to be submitted to the association's architectural committee for approval, which cannot be unreasonably denied as long as the requirements above are met. The association can ask the unit owner to have a style or design as close as possible to the architectural style of the community. Color might be an example where the association asks the unit owner to make a change in his or her architectural request.

Q: I would like to know how long we need to keep financial records and just which ones we are required by law to keep.

A: NRS 116.3108 subsection 9 states the association shall maintain the minutes of each meeting of the units' owners until the association community is terminated.

NRS 116. 31083 subsection 10 also requires the association to maintain the minutes of each executive board meeting until the association community is terminated. In addition, NRS 116.31175 subsection 4 states that the books, records and other papers of the association shall be maintained for at least 10 years.

In essence, other than the minutes that must be kept until the association is terminated, all other records must be kept for at least 10 years -- which would include all financial information such as paid bills, bank statements, financial monthly reports, past homeowner files and correspondence. Given the manner in which NRS 116.31175 is written, there is nothing that can be disposed of prior to the 10-year period.

Barbara Holland, certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. She is a member of the Institute of Real Estate Management. Questions may be sent to Association Q. & A., P.O. Box 7440, Las Vegas, NV 89125. Her fax number is 385-3759. Questions may be shortened and are subject to editing.