Roof space letting for solar energy could be trouble for homeowners

The RICS has, on 31 October 2011, issued a warning to consumers to be vigilant when opting to let their roof spaces for renewable energy schemes; doing so could violate mortgage schemes and damage saleability.

They say that many companies are now looking to benefit from the 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.

The leases, however, can run for up to 25 years and many do not have a break clause. As a consequence, many homeowners are left tied to an agreement that can put them in breach of their mortgage arrangement, discourage a prospective buyer and even potentially cause structural problems with the building itself.

Additionally, until the so called ‘Green Deal’ comes into effect in 2012, installers are not officially accredited and could lack sufficient qualifications to properly assess and oversee the installation of a solar device.

David Dalby, RICS Director, said:

“While we wholeheartedly 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.”

Homeowners should therefore be careful before accepting a seemingly harmless and beneficial offer from an energy provider seeking to use their roof space. The profits can be welcome, but they can cause serious trouble in the long term.

Further information has been recently released in a Government review of the FIT system, including drastic cuts to solar installation payments. To read more, click here .

31-10-11

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