September Surveyor's Blog - Solar Panel Considerations
Solar Panels & Their Effect On The Property Surveying Industry
Written by our Senior Regional Surveyor, Hugh Riley
The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine!
We see solar panels are in the news again. Customers who took out installation loans based on projected electricity revenue are now facing shortfalls, with repayments exceeding any power cost savings. Installation companies who encouraged homeowners to borrow for systems to be fitted may soon face mis-selling Ombudsmen action.
We’ve come across installations on north facing slopes, under trees or on outbuildings and even heard of one salesman who told people that they worked at night. When questioned on this, the gentleman said that they used them on spaceships and that it was dark in space!
This could be just the tip of the iceberg, as homeowners also need to be made aware that installation of solar panels could make the property un-mortgageable.
Historically, many homeowners have elected to buy their PV system outright, albeit with borrowed funds. However, returns from Feed in Tariffs (FIT) may now be lower than anticipated, from not only actual rates paid but also technical factors such as local geography or property orientation.
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is the recognised installation standard and these certified systems are the only ones eligible for FIT payments. The income available for non-MCS installations is much lower, in addition to concerns about mortgage suitability.
For those who have elected to lease their panels (often for 25 years), the supplier took space on the roof and the airspace, to provide the owner with free electricity, but retained the FIT revenue for themselves. This leads to issues with legal responsibility including for the maintenance of the roof. Often, if a purchaser doesn’t want to continue the lease arrangement there will be additional legal complications and they may have to consider a completely different house.
The unsightly nature of solar panel installations could affect marketability of a property and valuers may choose to submit a lower value if the panels are dated or the roof structure is compromised. Where there is no empirical data on whether buyers will pay a premium for houses with panels, because of energy savings, or less because of the visual and legal issues, surveyors should not add a premium in the absence of verifiable market sales evidence.
Surveyors should always mention any assumptions made regarding statutory planning consents and any roof load bearing issues and refer to specific lender guidance when considering a property with PV panels. Each lender policy varies. If a property has a solar panel lease which does not contain a ‘mortgage break right’ or was not installed under an approved scheme, the lender may not accept the property as security.
Great service from this company. Arranged by my lender, SDL rang to book an appointment… read more very quickly. Then rang back to offer an earlier slot. Paul rang 30 mins before arriving as promised. He was extremely pleasant, helpful and thorough. No complaint from us at all.
The surveyor who attended was extremely professional, showing covid awareness and… read more politeness from the very start. He was informative, engaging and made what could have been a strictly procedural meeting, a more personable and enjoyable one. We shared good conversation and SDL should be made aware that this surveyor represents the company in an excellent way. Would definitely recommend their services as a result
I thought the service provided by Richard from SDL Surveying was fantastic. Gave… read more me a call the day of the survey to talk through his findings. Then once I had received the report, kindly talked me through the final report and answered my many questions. In what can sometimes be a painful experience, Richard made things super simple.
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