Roof solar panels could land you in hot water

Consumers have been warned when opting to let their roof space for green energy schemes.

By Fusion Lifestyle Reporter
November 25, 2011, 12:02 pm

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says  doing so could violate mortgage terms and put a property’s saleability at risk.

Many companies are now looking to benefit from the coalition government’s Feed in Tariff Scheme (FIT) by renting roof space from homeowners to host solar panels. Under the scheme, the leasing company can then sell the generated energy to power suppliers for a profit.

However, with many leases running for up to 25 years, often without a break clause, homeowners can find themselves tied to agreements which could put them in breach of their mortgage arrangement, discourage prospective buyers and even create structural problems to their property. While providing homeowners with additional income, the potential consequences can be severe.

Furthermore, until the Green Deal - which is intended to revolutionise the energy efficiency of British properties - is introduced in 2012, installers are not formally accredited. This means that installations can be carried out by individuals poorly qualified to properly assess the installation process and the potential impact on the property.

RICS North West Residential Property Spokesman John Halman, who is also Managing Director at Gascoigne Halman which has offices in South Manchester, North Cheshire and the High Peak said, “While I support the use and production of green energy, it is important that consumers are aware of the potential dangers before entering into these agreements.

“Leasing roof space can generate much-needed additional income for households. However, anybody considering it should consult their mortgage provider and seek legal advice beforehand. The terms of the lease may not be acceptable to all lenders, so some homeowners could find themselves in the extremely difficult position of being tied to a long-term lease, yet in violation of the terms of their mortgage.

“Furthermore, with installers currently not being subject to formal regulation, the addition of solar panels could potentially create structural problems on a property as some roofs may not be strong enough to take the additional weight. It is also important to ensure that the roof covering is in good condition before any installation takes place, to reduce the risk of future maintenance problems.”

RICS recommendations to consumers:

·         Always obtain your mortgage lender’s consent and seek legal advice on the terms of any agreement before entering into a contract

·         If looking to sell your property within the duration of any lease, be aware that the lease may have to be taken on by a future buyer, whether they want it or not. This could affect saleability.

·         If consumers sign the agreement outside of the company’s premises, there is a seven day ‘cooling off’ period allowing the contract to be cancelled

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