Warning over free solar

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Three Cornish companies have joined forces to educate people about the dangers of the ‘rent-a-roof’ solar panel initiative.

(l-r) Worldwide Financial Planning’s, Ronan Marrion; Solen Energy UK’s technical director, Justin Mowbray; and Liddicoat Sanderson Potter’s David Sanderson

With impending changes to the much-publicised Feed-in Tariff (FIT), concerns have been raised that companies will try and cash in on the current financial benefit by offering free solar panels to homeowners.

However, independent financial advisers, Worldwide Financial Planning, estate agents, Liddicoat Sanderson Potter and solar panel company, Solen Energy UK, believe that people tempted by the offer may face future problems selling or remortgaging their homes.

Worldwide’s mortgage expert, Ronan Marrion, said: “From my understanding it’s a problem for the properties where the people didn’t pay for the panels themselves and got the free installation where solar company paid for the panels but kept the guaranteed income.

“The issue is that the homeowner doesn’t then own the panels and is effectively leasing their roof space, which if they have a mortgage, actually belongs to the mortgage lender.”

Since the introduction of the tariff in April 2010, companies have been leasing roof space from homeowners for 25 years, installing free solar panels and taking the FIT income during the period.

Homeowners benefit by using electricity generated by the solar panels, which results in a reduction in electricity bills of around £150 per year.

Liddicoat Sanderson Potter partner, David Sanderson, said: “We have heard stories in the media where people have had mortgage applications turned down to buy a property where panels have been installed in this way.

“Recently we have had this happen and it will cost the client £25k to get out of the lease plus a further £10k to have the panels removed.”

Solen Energy UK technical director, Justin Mowbray, added: “The most important thing for people to do if they are offered free solar panels is to read the terms and conditions, and check with their mortgage provider that it is acceptable.”