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Solar panels - what do they mean when selling?

Solar panels: they're big news and could help reduce your energy bills. But what impact do they have when selling your home?

Matthew Gray,

Property Services Director, comments:

There has been lots of talk about solar panels. Whether you think that they look attractive or an eyesore is down to personal taste. What is true, is that there is money to be made in the long-term, but they could become a problem if you decide to sell your home.
Solar panels generate your own electricity, which in turn can save you money on bills. There is also the bonus of enjoying a tax-free fee, in return for feeding back some of your excess electricity to the National Grid. This is known as a Feed-in Tariff.
It all seems fairly straight-forward. That is, until you decide to sell your home or buy one which already has solar panels. 
The Feed-in Tariff will typically stay with the property, but not always. Some sellers will have it signed over to them, meaning that they continue to enjoy the income from the Feed-in Tariffs at their old property - even though they no longer live there.  The consequence of this is that the new owner would not be able to benefit from any cash back from the National Grid.
Another issue is if the seller has leased the roof out to the installation company. 
Many companies will fit solar panels free of charge, allowing the homeowner to make the savings from generating their own electricity. But the company benefits from selling the excess power back to the National Grid. The companies involved effectively rent the roof for 25 years. Getting out of such a lease may be costly and it is worth asking your solicitor to have this checked out before buying a property.
In this situation, it is also important to find out who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the panels.
Finally, some mortgage lenders refuse to lend on a property where the solar panels are leased out. Some are concerned that they would find it hard to re-sell a home in the event of a repossession.The issue does not affect those who paid outright for their panels to be installed.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Many people love their solar panels and they can pay for themselves if you’re planning on staying in a house for the long term. Just make sure that you ask your solicitor to investigate thoroughly and be aware of the facts before setting your heart on your new home.”

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