Now that fitting solar panels has become more commonplace, here are some answers to queries on the legal aspects :
1. Do I need Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval ?
This depends on where the panels are sited and what type of installation is involved but normally none is needed. Your installer should check this out but it would be sensible to double-check with your Planning Authority.
2. Can I put panels on a Listed Building ?
Again, it depends on the type of panels and the situation but it is possible to do so.
3. Should I agree to an Investor Company installing their panels on my roof or should I arrange for my own panels to be installed :
This will depend on your finances. At present it is thought to be worthwhile to use long-term savings to buy the panels so that you will always own them. The panels are expected to last twenty-five years and the inverter (for the electricity supply) ten years and you will receive the benefits of the Feed In Tariff and cheaper electricity. If funds do not run to this, you can lease your space above the roof and receive cheaper electricity in return but not the Feed In Tariff.
4. If I want to sell my house, will solar panels put off buyers ?
Up until now, many Estate Agents have tended to believe the panels would detract from the value of the house. After all, many people would not like the idea of someone else having rights over their roof. However, as solar panels become more familiar in town and country, buyers will realise that having a house with solar panels on will give them cheaper electricity and so will become a selling point.
5. I have just spent £12,000 on my solar panels but will need to move house next year. Can I ask the buyer to pay more for the panels ?
The answer to this is yes. Although the panels remain on site, they will remain your property and you will be entitled to the Feed In Tariff unless you agree to assign this entitlement to your buyer – and you could demand payment for this. If the buyer does not want to buy them, your Sale Contract will need to include rights for you to keep the panels fixed to the roof and for maintenance and repair. You would then continue to own the panels and receive the Feed In Tariff and the Buyer would still receive cheaper electricity.
6. An Investor Company is to install their panels on my roof and have asked me to enter into a lease. Do I need to ask my Solicitor to check this ?
Yes, definitely, as the current leases are biased in favour of the Investor Company. If a lease is involved, the consent of your Mortgage Company will be required and they will want to ensure the lease contains clauses in their favour and that they comply with the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook. The lease can be quite lengthy and you should ask the Investor Company to pay your legal fees.
7. Can I ask the Investor Company to remove the panels ?
You can ask, but the Company is very unlikely to agree. Usually you are tied into a lease for twenty-five years.
8. What if I need to repair my roof and the Investor Company has solar panels on it ?
Hopefully this won’t be necessary as you should have checked your roof would last for twenty-five years. However, the unforeseen can happen and any agreements you have entered into will specify how long a period you have in which to repair the roof, before you have to pay compensation to the Investor Company.
Contact: Mary Nation, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone 01363 774706