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Problems selling or remortgaging houses that have solar panel leases

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An inceasing number of homeowners are opting to reduce their energy bills by installing solar panels, but this can carry significant risks if undertaken through a ‘rent-a-roof’ scheme. Such schemes, where homeowners lease roof space in return for the free use of the electricity generated from solar or photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs, are becoming increasingly popular.

In a nutshell, the scheme offered by PV installers works by allowing the property owner to use all the power that the PV system generates for their household. This thereby reduces their need to draw power from the grid, lowering their annual utility bill. The installer is paid for both the total power that the system generates (whether it is used or not) and any surplus power fed back into the grid. They do this by retaining the right for the feed-in tariff (FIT), under the scheme introduced on 1 April 2010 by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, via the Energy Act 2008. The main aim of the scheme was to incentivise small-scale low carbon technologies, which included PV panels.
The PV installer’s investment is protected by the homeowner granting a lease over the property’s roof space, typically for a period of 25 years.

In theory, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the homeowner and the installer. However, some property owners have encountered problems with either their existing lender or where they have tried to remortgage or sell their property. This may be because the homeowner never obtained the lender’s consent for the installation, and failed to register the lease against the property, or because the lease itself was not drafted in a way acceptable to the majority of lenders.

There are no exact figures for how many installations of PV panels have taken place since the FIT scheme was introduced, but it is likely that as more and more residential home owners seek to sell or remortgage their properties then a greater number of these problems will emerge.

If you are looking to remortgage or sell your property that has PV panels fitted and  subject to a rent-a-roof scheme and would like some advice in relation to it please contact William James on 01623448317, drop me an email at wjames@fidler.co.uk or visit our website and we can discuss what options are available to you.

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