Solar Panels

I previously wrote about all the rain we have been having and issues with flooding. Turning now to a sunnier subject – Solar Panels. It is important to investigate arrangements in detail when buying a property if it has solar panels and also before signing up to any agreement for solar panels on a property you may already own.

Usually there will be a lease arrangement where the home owner leases part of the property to a company eg the air space above the roof and the right to use the roof for support. The owner may benefit from the electricity that is generated and the company may sell any surplus to the National Grid. The company often has the right to recover any losses they may suffer if you do something to the property which affects their rights under the lease and these could be substantial over a long period.

Things to think about could include:-

1. whether planning permission should first be obtained if the property does not have ‘permitted development rights’or whether building regulation consent is needed.

2. whether the property title has restrictions on alterations, additions or use.

3.  if there is a mortgage then the lender may need to be involved and give their consent before works start. They usually require a clause to protect them if they need to enforce the mortgage

4. the wording of the lease – sometimes you can find that the lease arrangements for a few solar panels on your roof are more onerous than an average commercial lease of big commercial premises! They may not be acceptable to some lenders or to buyers

5. whether it may affect the value of your property

You should involve your solicitor before signing any agreement or lease and if you are buying a property that already has solar panels then make sure the arrangements are checked out carefully by your solicitor. You could find the scheme ties in the property for up to 25 years or that the company has a right to renew the lease. You need to get clear advice what you are taking on as it could affect the marketability of your home.

(Glanvilles, 2012)