There are over 1.5 million houses with solar panels in the UK and we are installing them
faster than any other European country. It’s likely that if you are looking to buy a property, sooner or later
you will come across one with solar panels. Therefore there are a number of key issues which should be considered:
When were the panels installed?
This is a key question because the age of the system will usually dictate the ‘Feed In Tariff’ payments you can expect to receive and as the panels and various parts of the system have a finite life it will also give you an indication of how long until the panels or parts will need to be replaced. Early panels were installed in 2011.
Who fitted the panels?
The mortgage companies insist that any solar panels on properties to be mortgaged must have been fitted by a ‘certified installer’ who is on the approved list and have an MSC certificate to prove work has been done to a required standard. This can be a problem with early installations as the register of installers was not in place. Even if you are not having a mortgage yourself be mindful that when you come to sell, having a property which cannot be mortgaged may seriously reduce your market.
What is the Feed in Tariff?
The FIT (the amount paid by the Government via an energy supplier) has changed considerably since 2011 when the tariff was initially 43.3 pence for every unit of electricity generated and agreements were initially for 25 years. Today’s rate is considerably lower at 13 pence & agreements much shorter. The tariff remains with the system i.e. the property owners cannot take it with them, so any buyer will inherit this. That said, the property owners can now ‘sell back’ their tariff to companies who will make a one-off payment in order that they then receive all future monies from the system. Who receives the FIT is definitely a question to be asked.
Does the Property owner own the solar panels or are they leased?
Panels can either be bought outright or leased, the latter often referred to as a ‘rent a roof scheme’. These schemes originated when the FIT amounts were very generous, and third parties paid the home owner to have the solar system installed but would take the Feed in Tariffs themselves. The property owner signed a lease giving access to the roof for 20 -25 years and because these were registered on the deeds it is binding on any future buyer.
What if you are selling a house with solar panels?
Ensure that you have all your details to hand – fitting date, installer details including certified installer registration number, MSC certificate, evidence of ownership and any finance settled in full, information about the FIT, a list of payments received over the years, planning permissions, dates of any replacement parts (particularly inverters), service history etc. You will need these.
Conveyancers are now very experienced in handling property transactions where solar panels have been fitted – just be sure to tell your conveyancer that there are solar panels on your roof!
For more information on solar panels please contact Okells Francis Law: