Mortgage risk on rent-a-roof solar panel schemes'Free' solar panels could put off potential buyers

22 April 2012

Solar panels mortgage risk

RICs has warned that people with 'free' solar panels may struggle to sell their homes. 

Consumers who have installed solar panels under a 'rent-a-roof' scheme may struggle to sell their homes and risk breaching their mortgage arrangements, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned.

'Free' solar schemes, also known as rent-a-roof schemes, provide free electricity-generating solar panels to householders. The householder benefits from the free electricity, while the company installing the panel keeps the cash usually earned by the householder from the government's feed-in tariff, which pays people for generating their own energy. 

Our full guide to rent-a-roof solar panels explains how these schemes work and what you should consider if thinking about installing solar panels.

Solar panel warning

Rent-a-roof leases often run for up to 25 years without a break clause, and RICS says that homeowners could be discouraging potential buyers and creating structural problems for their property by having them installed. 

As solar panel installers are not formally regulated, RICS fears that many consumers may suffer from poorly installed panels that are inappropriate for the structure of their homes.

Warning on rent-a-roof schemes

Which? has been critical of rent-a-roof schemes in the past, and again reiterates its warning to consumers to avoid getting 'free' solar panels installed. We believe there are too many question marks over liabilities if panels are faulty and are concerned on the impact that free solar panels may have on your ability to sell your home.

Which? thinks that the profits from rent-a-roof schemes should be shared more fairly between the rent-a-roof company and the householder. We are also concerned that cash intended for householders is going elsewhere.

Given that the feed-in tariff that the scheme is based on is paid for by consumers, through a levy on your energy bills, we don't think that  'free solar' companies are entitled a chunk of that cash.

Things to check before installing rent-a-roof solar panels

RICS has provided some useful advice for consumers considering a ‘free’ solar scheme.

  • Always get 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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