Could solar panels work for you?
Following on from last week?s tips for greener homes, today we?re taking a closer look at fitting solar panels on blocks of flats.
At first glance, there are plenty of plus points. You get cheap electricity; you can sell any energy you don?t need back to the grid and of course, there?s that nice warm feeling you get when you know you?re doing your bit. In some cases, government subsidies may even be available to help with the set-up costs. But as we pointed out in our earlier blog, installation may not be straightforward. Here?s why.
If you manage a block that is interested in installing solar panels, there are some issues to be thought through first. Obviously, the roof needs to be suitable. Which way does it face? Is it large enough to house the panels? And of course, you will need planning permission.
Then there are the all-important legal aspects to think about. As ever with flats, the starting point is the lease. Who is legally responsible for the roof and who pays for the installation? The view from property lawyers is that solar panels are likely to be considered "improvements" rather than "repairs" under the lease. While repairs can normally be recovered via the service charge, there is no guarantee that improvements will be treated in the same way. So unless the lease includes specific wording to this effect, the service charge can?t pick up the bill.
Lee Hurle from Ringley Law says that if this turns out to be the case, the cost will have to be funded outside of the service charge mechanism. Flat owners will have to volunteer to pay their share as they are not legally obliged to pay it and not everyone may agree to do this. So blocks would probably have to structure the cost as a loan to the company.
Other issues that will need some thought are:
Author : Mary-Anne Bowring
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