Solar Power

Energy efficiency and protecting the environment are hot topics at the moment, and in amongst “doing your bit” you need to consider the legal issues that arise.

There are many companies offering deals whereby solar panels are fitted to the roof of a property. That property then generates its own power from nature, and indeed any surplus energy not consumed can be sold to the National Grid. There does not appear to be any obvious downsides.

However the legal side can be complicated and have consequences. Effectively what a property owner is expected to do is lease his roof, and the airspace directly above it, to a third party. Such leases can be for long terms, typically 20 to 30 years. If there is a mortgage on the property then the bank’s consent will almost certainly be required, otherwise there is a risk of breaching the loan conditions.

It is also important to remember that you may well wish to sell your property whilst the lease is in place and the panels are on the roof. The new owner would take over the lease and some commentators fear that the existence of it and the panels can put off potential buyers. This is a very new area and as yet there is little evidence one way or the other, but clearly it isn’t something to rush into.

Also think practically. Is your property in the shadow of tall trees or other buildings, thus reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the panels? Once the panels are in place they need to be kept clean to maintain optimum efficiency. Panels can be tilted at an angle so that rain will clean them, otherwise you either have to do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you.

As you will be spending several thousand pounds on a project like this, aiming for long-term savings in bills and for greater energy efficiency, it pays to think very carefully before committing.  We can review any lease documentation for you, and liaise with your mortgage lender if necessary so do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any advice.

by David Buskey

01706 233417