When purchasing a property with solar panels there are various legal implications that you need to be aware of, and documents that you need to obtain in respect of their installation.

Planning Permission and Building Regulations

The installation of solar panels in residential property is likely to be classed as a “Permitted Development” under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, and therefore is not likely to require planning permission subject to certain conditions such as the panels being positioned in a way to minimise the effect on the external appearance of the building.

Where the property is in a conservation area, is a listed building or part of a World Heritage site for example Permitted Developments will not apply and an application will have to be made to the Local Planning Authority.

Building Regulations will however always apply as solar panels significantly increase the weight of a roof and therefore the structural integrity of the roof would have to be improved, in accordance with Building Regulations. Additionally, as the panels are an electrical installation the installation would have to comply with Building Regulations in this respect also.

What documents do you need to see?

  • Building Regulation Approval
  • Structural Survey of the roof
  • Completion Certificate Or certification confirming the installer is part of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme or another relevant Competent person scheme
  • Electrical installation certificate
  • Planning permission (only if the property does not benefit from the permitted development provisions)
  • Guarantee for the panels
Solar Panels and Mortgage lenders

Where the panels are not owned by the home owner but by solar panel installer, the parties (installer and homeowner) should have entered into a Lease of the roof space at the time the panels were installed. Because the presence of the solar panels could have an adverse impact on a mortgage lenders security when installing the panels the home owner should have obtained their lenders consent.

When purchasing a property with the assistance of a mortgage and where there are already panels installed there are certain requirements issued by the Council of Mortgage Lenders that the Lease must comply with. A list (although not exhaustive) of the requirements is below:

  • The Lease must not exceed a period of 25 years
  • The Lease must exclude the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
  • Installer must insure and maintain the panels, as well as carry out any repairs that were made necessary by their action
  • The Lease must allow for the removal and reinstatement of the panels to allow the homeowner to carry out works to the property
  • The Lease must contain a break right for a Mortgagee in Possession (i.e. option for a lender to terminate the lease should they have repossessed the property)
  • The Lease must also exclude the Mortgagee in Possession for any liability under the Lease

What documents do you need to see?

  • The Lease
  • Installer’s insurance policy covering the panels
Solar Panels and Buildings Insurance

When you come to exchange of contracts your solicitor will advise you to put your buildings insurance policy relating to the property into effect (the panels, as stated above, are insured by the installer). You must ensure that you make your insurance company aware of the fact that the property has the benefit of solar panels and obtain suitable buildings insurance.

The above are some issues that you should be aware of when purchasing a property with solar panels. If you require any further information in this respect please contact Sidrah Walimia on 0121 227 3850 or swalimia@thursfields.co.uk

The article is provided for the purpose of general information only and is not to be considered exhaustive advice in relation to the topic discussed, and should therefore not be relied on solely. Please contact a lawyer directly regarding your specific queries.

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