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A word of warning for customers who have had solar panels installed in recent months.  A few clients’ have approached me and queried whether the home insurance is invalid as a result of having the panels installed. This is a very good question.

Firstly, you will have to make your insurers aware of the installation. Failure to disclose this may invalidate your policy.

The second question to ask is whether the value of the panels takes you over the maximum amount your insurer will pay out if you make a claim. Essentially, you need to ascertain what the maximum cover is, whether this excludes anything specific and find out what the cost of the panels actually are.

In addition, your insurers will want to confirm that the installation has been carried out correctly and in accordance with Building Regulation. You should be able to confirm this with the company that installed the panels. Failure to be able to confirm this and provide evidence will almost certainly prevent your home being adequately covered.

Also ask whether the insurers will cover the actual cost for reinstalling the solar panels and not just the cost of the panels themselves.

The position is further complicated if you have solar panels installed under the ‘Free Solar Panel’ scheme, where by you effectively rent your roof out in return for using all the free electricity that is generated. In these instances you will need to look very carefully at the lease and find out who is responsible for what!

If you have any issues regarding problems with the installation of solar panels at your property why not drop me a line at wjames@fidler.co.uk or give me a call on 01623 45111. I have numerous blogs on the subject of solar panels so please also visit our website for information on this subject also.

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Solar Panels    No Comments

 I blogged last week about a how enforceable a lease was from an installers perspective.  It occurred to me however that it might be an idea to blog about it from the perspective of someone getting the panel installed.

1. As a homeowner it is likely that your property will be mortgaged. Your agreement with your lender will stipulate that you must seek your lenders permission before you carry out any alterations to the property. Installing the panels would certainly be considered an alteration so you should seek your lenders approval;

2. Consider who will be paying your legal fees and whether you need independent advice.  Most leases are will be standard but it is always a good idea to have the lease checked;

3. You should ask that the installer is accredited with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme;

4. You will require evidence that the proper installation and all relevant consents for the installation have been obtained;

5. The agreement and lease should cater for the removal of the panels and repairs etc;

6. You should inform your building insurers of the installation;

7. Most importantly your lender will want a sufficient break clause to be inserted into the lease to govern when things go wrong.

Although the installation of panels may seem like a good idea you should make sure you consider all the documentation before you sign it.  If you require any assistance with the above or are considering entering into such a scheme please contact me on wjames@fidler.co.uk or visit our website for other blogs written on this topic.

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Solar Panels    No Comments

The Solar Panel industry has seen some dramatic growth in the last couple of years with particular attention to the governments Feed in Tariff (“FIT”) scheme prompting some of this growth. The FIT is being cut in December, which may cause a reduction in the amount of schemes or installations that are being offered for free. If you are a business installing these types of systems under this scheme now might be the time to ask yourself the questions below to ensure that you are up to date with the registration of the leases for the panels.   

Particular attention should be paid to the following:

1.        Ensure that both registered proprietors are parties to the lease. Failure to get both the owners signed onto the lease will not potentially make in enforceable (as one owner may claim no knowledge of the agreement) but it will prevent the lease from being registered against the property;

2.        Ensure that the lease is registered. This might sound obvious but just because the lease has been signed by both parties does not mean that it will protected against a bona fide purchaser for value, e.g. a normal purchaser. The situation could arise where the panels are installed; the owner subsequently sells to a buyer in good faith. If the lease is not registered then the buyer will have no knowledge of its legal status and can take the property free of the lease. You will obviously have an action against the original owner (if you can find them) but would perhaps not want the hassle of having to go through this process;

3.        Perhaps the most important aspect is gaining the lenders permission. Most properties will have a lender on the property whose permission will be required before the lease can be registered against the property. Although most lenders will be prepared to give permission, this is not a given and some lenders have refused to register the lease. The lenders that are prepared to register the lease may charge for the permission or want to alter the lease as a result of the lease not being compliant.    

Should the above be of interest to you or you have questions in relation to the above please contact William James on wjames@fidler.co.uk or contact me on 01623 451111 or alternatively visit our website.


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Solar Panels    No Comments

You may have heard recently that the feed in tariffs for solar panels has been cut dramatically by the government. Essentially as at the 12th December 2011 the amount payable under the Feed in Tariff  (“FIT”) scheme has been cut from 43.3 p/kWH to 21p/kWH.  It would appear that the scheme has been a victim of it’s own success as the uptake has far exceeded what was anticipated.

The effect of this may be more significant than merely just homeowners being able to claim less money back through the feed in tariff.

There has been many schemes available where companies will offer free solar panels and free installation on homeowners property. They are able to use as much generated electricity, as they want with the FIT going back to the company that installed the panels. The rationale being that they would make their money over the next 25 years through the FIT.  On the face of it, with this tariff being cut, it would appear that these types of schemes are no longer sustainable and the days of free solar energy for homeowners are over.

Speaking to client’s in the industry this is not necessarily the case. Prices of solar PV panels have dropped significantly so this will absorb some of the FIT reduction. Also there may be scope for new schemes to emerge where although not free panels are offered, heavily subsided panels can be offered making it a more affordable option for homeowners.

The bottom line is that if you want free solar energy, now is the time to act if you can find a supplier that is able to fit a system before the 12th December.

If you are a business involved in these type of schemes or a homeowner thinking about have one of these systems fitted please contact me on wjames@fidler.co.uk or give me a call on 01623451111.

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Solar Panels    No Comments

Further to my last blog on the benefits of installing solar panels on your roof and renting out the roof space there has been some futher developments.

The Energy Savings Trust (“EST”) had previously estimated the savings to households at around £120 annually but recent investigation by the EST has shown savings to be significantly less.

This could have an impact on the schemes (as mentioned in my previous blog) where you rent out roof space in return for all the electricity you can use as householders may now be reluctant to lock the property into a scheme where the savings are not that significant.

In addition the estimates that are provided do not always take into account the area in which the panels are going to be installed. This is further backed up by a Which investigation which confirmed that careful consideration should be given when calculating how long it would take for the system to pay for itself.

More than 28,000 households installed solar panels in the last financial year, with the number growing by 1,000 homes each week so there is still clearly market for this type of product and scheme.

The key factor is for many people schemes such as the above can be mutually beneficial but time should be spent working out the figures before you take the plunge.

Should you have any questions in relation to this blog please contact me on wjames@fidler.co.uk or alternatively 01623 451111

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Solar Panels    1 Comment

A ray of sunshine in a gloomy depression?

I have had a couple of enquiries through recently about companies approaching home owners to talk about providing them with free electricity. It’s rare these days for a company to offer anything for free so what’s the catch?

Essentially the government is encouraging the use of renewable energy and with powers under the Energy Act 2008 it has introduced a system of feed-in-tariffs to incentivise small scale low carbon electricity generation.

Basically if your home generates energy through solar or wind power you will be entitled to payments under this feed-in-tariff. This is payable whether you use the power or not. You get money just for generating the electricity in the first place! In addition you can use the electricity to reduce your bills and the energy that you do not use can be fed back into the grid, which you get paid for as well.

Sounds to good to be true? Well yes it is. The installation costs for a PV or solar panel system can range between £10,000 and £15,000 depending on its size. For the vast majority of us this is simply too much.

This is where the companies mentioned previously come in. They will pay for the system, install it free of charge and allow you to use all the energy that is generated. What they want in return is the payments made for the feed in tariff and this is where the catch comes in.

You will be asked to grant a lease over your roof and air space above your property for up to 25 years.  The implications of this will be that a leasehold title will need to be created over your (normally) freehold property. This will almost certainly have implications if your property has a mortgage and in these circumstances the Lender’s permission will need to be obtained. Secondly it may affect the marketability of your property making it more difficult to sell. You will also want to consider what happens if you want to extend into your loft or repair works need to be carried out to the roof of the property.

If you have been approached with a scheme similar to the above and want advice in relation to it or you are a company thinking about offering this type of product and want help setting up the legal aspect of the installation please contact me on wjames@fidler.co.uk to discuss in more detail.



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