Wiltshire Council suggests solar panel caution

Wiltshire Council is encouraging homeowners to consider carefully the long term implications before agreeing to install solar panels on their homes.

Sue Wilkin, senior public protection officer at the council, said although solar panels could bring about savings, homeowners needed to be aware of the long term commitments. There would be a legally binding lease agreement with the company who carried out the installation. Homeowners with a mortgage must advise their mortgage companies of their intentions, because not to do so would be a breach of the terms of their mortgage.

Once agreed the panels must stay, even when the homeowner wants to sell. Anyone wishing to purchase the property would do so subject to that lease. Leases for solar panels were not always the same. Gains to be made from the scheme were not the same with each supplier and small print should be read carefully. Some leases did not provide for repairs which then became the liability of the homeowner.
Some solar panels were self cleaning and others required professional cleaning at regular intervals to remain effective. Some were extremely heavy and unsuitable for certain roof structures.

Sue Wilkin advised: “Schemes such as grants for insulation, solar panels or any other home improvement should be properly looked into before agreement. The companies offering the schemes are businesses, and their primary concern is to make money, and salesmen will not necessarily give people the best advice. If people are unsure, they should talk to Consumer Direct on 08454 040506. If they are thinking of solar panels, and have a mortgage they should talk to their mortgage company before signing up.
Even though people may have legal rights to change their mind for a short time, if they signed up when the salesman called, people may still end up paying some charges if they later don’t go ahead. If people succumb to the salesman’s chat and are then worried, they should take advice immediately before their rights expire.”

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