“The pro’s and cons of installing ‘free solar panels’ to your home have always been hotly debated within our pages and the industry as whole, but there seems to be real evidence now that they may have been too good to be true for some households.”
If you have a free system on your home, then you need to be aware of recent feedback coming through from others who installed free solar panels too. Although we have always preached on the side of caution, the news that Natwest, Nationwide and the Yorkshire banks are not dispensing mortgages on homes with free solar panels could come as a shock to some.
The original premise of these types of schemes was to reward homeowners who rent out their roof space to certain types of solar companies who want to invest in large-scale installations and thus take advantage of the early feed-in tariffs, as it was at that time.
“The truth of the matter is, people’s circumstances change and moving or selling a property after you have signed long-term ‘free solar panel’ contract may become a problem to some.”
These were designed to reward the homeowners with free electricity while the solar company reap the financial reward of the then over-generous feed-in tariff scheme. These types of schemes were so unexpected and successful at that time that the government had to pull the tariff rug from the feet of the solar industry because of fears of over-subscription at a time when austerity was beginning to grip the country.
Unfortunately, it seems that nobody in the ‘free solar panel’ industry asked the banks what they thought about it. It now seems that the banks don’t want anything to do with properties with such systems installed.
This leaves homeowners who want to sell with a solar panel system that would normally be a good asset when selling a property being shunned by some of the biggest names in banking.
The reasoning behind this stance is because of the legal issues around repossessing a home (if needed) with other third-party technology attached to the roof.
The unexpected nature and super-fast implementation of the ‘free solar panel’ gold rush has, to some people in the solar industry left a bad stain on this fledgling industry and unfortunately this may be another issue which may have negative connotations.
What you can do if you have a free installation
First of all, don’t panic. For most people who intend to keep their property long-term, this news will not be of concern.
The vast majority of property owners who take up the free solar offers were well aware of the implications of the contract they signed. These schemes vary in their contract details, but would have been made clear from the first phone call that it was a long-term commitment.
Unfortunately, free electricity in this age of escalating prices sounds very tempting for struggling households, but as an old friend used to say “there is no free lunches in this world” and the same is true with rent-a-roof schemes who require commitments varying from 10 to 20 years.
In most cases, the solar panel owners will allow you to buy them out and thus turning your home into a very desirable property. Homes with renewable energy systems are very sought after and could in most cases help you sell your house more quickly than those without.
My advice has always been to own your solar panels outright, so you can benefit from the feed-in tariff revenue, free electricity, hot water heating yourself. The three decades of peace of mind that this technology provides, whether free or not, should for most people be a positive thing.
Exchange of ownership is a very common practice and although the feed-in tariff cannot be moved from the original installation address, the financial benefits are allowed to be exchanged upon sale of a property. This ultimately gives your home a clear advantage when on the property market.
If you are in any doubt about your contract or situation, it is always best to consult with your solar panel provider who in most cases are happy to help solve any issues you may have relating to your solar panels.
"Feel the pride."
Stuart Lovatt on
Founder of Heat My Home.