We bought a house in 2010 and had solar panels installed on a leasehold basis. We want to sell, but the buyer’s preferred lender won’t lend on properties with leasehold panels.
We have tried to buy out the panels, as per a clause in the lease. It states that we have to compensate the company for the loss of their “feed-in tariff” – we know this will be around £20,000.
However, the management of the panels has been passed to an agent, who seems reluctant to let us proceed. JG, Winchester
Back in 2010, homeowners wanting to reduce their environmental footprint and their electricity bills found they could get expensive solar panels installed for free.
The government had introduced feed-in tariffs (FITs) to guarantee an income to householders who produced their own electricity from renewable sources, and numerous companies sprang up to cash in on the deal. In return for the free installation, they would pocket the FIT payments.
The installation company would retain ownership of the panels, and effectively lease the roof space on which they operated, for up to 25 years, while the homeowner benefited from free electricity.
The trouble with leases is that they affect the property title and are binding on any future buyer.
The Council of Mortgage Lenders says getting a mortgage on such a property should not be a problem provided the lease and technology fulfil the list of requirements agreed by the banking sector.
However, different lenders have different policies. The managing agent in question failed to respond to a request for a comment but, shortly after the Observer got in touch, you were contacted with a £20,500 price tag to assume ownership of the panels.
This is more than you would probably have paid to install the system but you’ve missed out on eight years’ of subsidies, so unless you hold out for a buyer with a more adaptable lender, it looks as though this is the only way to sell.
Always make sure the installer is a member of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code which offers redress if a system is mis-sold.
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