Solar panels provide sustainable energy and save money so why they can become a sellers’ nightmare?

Sustainability comes at a cost, solar panels from a decade ago were pushed as life-changing, you would earn money, the government would pay you and it was the promise of a new era. Many property owners jumped onboard to the schemes and businesses were created and grew.

Fast forward to now and many companies have gone bust, panels are more efficient and cheaper to buy and install yourself. If only 12% of the UK land had solar it would give enough energy to fuel the nation that would be around 16 panels per household of four. You wouldn’t even need direct sun so the stereotypical rainy British day wouldn’t be an issue with newer technology.

This all sounds near perfect, what’s the problem you’ll be wondering? Like nearly everything solar panels have a life expectancy and by 2050 there would be an estimated 60 million tons of landfill waste caused by the panels (source)There are recycling schemes currently in place but the larger issue will be the solar property problem.

Solar property problems:

During the solar ‘boom’ when there were companies galore promising to change your life by generating energy they would rent your roof (via a scheme of the same name) which tied into the government’s Feed-in Tariff. The scheme is still ongoing, although closed for new customers and is, in fact, causing some problems for homeowners. 

Banks may not give a mortgage against the problem as you would no longer ‘own’ part of it, summed up by one Reddit user: 

“Essentially, in the banks’ eyes if you default they can’t sell the house because by now it’s likely some shell organisation in Panama is the tenant of your roof.”

This is compounded even more than many organisations have gone bust and no one knows who even owns the roof. The lure of ‘free solar’ promised to homeowners resulted in an inability to sell or remortgage many properties. Insurance can also go up to cover the unknown creating a similar problem with the current cladding crisis causing problems tracking down just who owns what. With the speed of new installations during solars peak, panels were installed quickly however, some of the roofs that they were installed in were never surveyed for if they could hold the additional weight and over time it’s caused structural issues in the property.

 “We were not aware that it might become a problem when we put the offer in 4 months ago. Now we’re waiting to hear from a solicitor if there’s a solution” – said Joanna, a first-time buyer from Southhampton

The panels can be removed often but this can cost thousands of pounds which aside from the cost would also nullify any savings of the panels. It is possible to continue on with contracts but there is very little definitive information available. Jeremy, a painter from Brighton said “In 2010, my wife and I were presented with this wonderful idea of having free energy, that is good for the environment. We didn’t think twice and signed the contract to lease our roof. Now my wife has passed and I need to downsize, unfortunately, our buyer won’t proceed unless I pay the fee to have the panels removed.”

Homeowners are stuck into contracts with unknown ends, many people are still unaware of the scheme carrying on even if the Feed-in Tariff ended in 2019.  If you are trying to sell a property with a solar panel problem why not contact us, we have experience dealing with problematic properties and we are able to buy any house.