Landlords looking to benefit from the installation of solar panels on their properties are being advised to ensure they get approval from their mortgage providers and property insurance providers before they go ahead.
Even though the feed-in-tariff for renewable energy has been halved by the Government in the last few months, many landlords still see the leasing out of their roof spaces to companies generating power from photovoltaic panels as a profitable sideline. However, The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) which represents many buy-to-let mortgage providers is urging private property owners to ensure they comply with insurance and financial guidelines now, to avoid problems later on when it comes to selling or refinancing their properties.
The CML recommend that landlords ensure the company place no onerous conditions on the property which could affect its value or saleability and that installation is according to planning consent and is completed to an accredited standard. They also say landlords should check the maintenance contracts arranged by the installers and that property owners should get written consent from their insurance providers before they go ahead.
A spokesman for the CML said: “Individual lenders may have their own specific, additional requirements. We advise borrowers to include their lenders in discussions with the panel providers from an early stage. That should enable any security or valuation issues to be addressed before signing a lease agreement. Any changes to a borrowers circumstances over that period, or the need for maintenance and repairs, should not create a burden for the borrower or the lender. The guidance is not intended to deter landlords from installing panels, but seeks to ensure that the lenders security is not affected by the arrangement.”
Walthamstow Council have announced that they will be fitting new solar panels on some of their own buildings along with almost 1,000 of their council homes under a plan to reduce their carbon footprint as well as saving some much needed money.
The authority plan to borrow £9 million to fund the installation of the panels on the homes, which will all be protected by landlord insurance. It has been forecast that all council tenants will make a saving of approximately £110 each year and they have already chosen the most suitable properties in the borough. After installation, electricity used during daylight hours will be free to every home included in the scheme.
Ashley Gunstock, of the Green Party, said “I believe better measures should have been introduced when more money was available. I hate having to sound negative but it is so often too little too late. We should by now be well on the way to better environmental performance. So much more could have been done before the problems with the economy. I am also critical of the coalition for not doing enough to encourage households to use renewable energy sources. I am concerned because the first things to go when there are problems with the economy are environmental measures.”
The council are aware that they need to help older and vulnerable tenants who are struggling to pay both gas and electric bills. It will also give a major boost to the economy as local firms will benefit from the installation and maintenance work on the solar panels. Tenders have already been invited for the first phase of the project. The council buildings being considered for the plan include Walthamstow Assembly Hall, Waltham Forest Town Hall and Sycamore House.
York has been picked as the latest location to join the nationwide push to have solar panels installed in homes, which will provide both a greener and cheaper source of energy. The Coalition are backing the use of solar panels to provide a vital element in the fight against increasing fuel bills as thousands of households are staring at fuel poverty.
As many as 3000 council owned homes which are covered by landlord insurance could be kitted out with the solar panels in a scheme which is being aimed at the poorest sections of the area. The DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) have revealed that almost 29000 solar panel installations have been installed throughout the United Kingdom during the first year of the scheme. All energy companies are one by one announcing prise rises of nearly 20% and latest figures show that the number of households in fuel poverty has increased by one million and has now surpassed the five million mark.
York Council’s Tracey Simpson-Laing said: “This project will be key to alleviating the financial burden on households who are already struggling during the economic slump. The issue of rising fuel bills is a concern for everyone, but especially for people who are in the poorest sections of society. A lot of elderly people and families with young children live in the council’s properties, and these are two groups who are often affected by fuel poverty. The scheme will provide a welcome relief with a cheaper means of getting electricity while also helping protect the environment.”
Tenants will be able to choose if they want to have the solar panels fitted. The work will take two days to install and they will not have to move out of their homes while the work is completed. The council have carried out research to find out which properties are eligible, identifying properties that have a correctly angled roof and are facing in the right position to get the maximum benefits.