A Shade Greener hits back at ‘rent-a-roof’ criticisms

Free-solar installers A Shade Greener has defended the ‘rent-a-roof’ scheme following concerns it breaches mortgage arrangements.

The claim was made by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and reported by Which? magazine earlier this month.

The article warns consumers to ‘avoid getting free solar panels installed’ due to question marks over liability when panels are faulty and the impact it may have on the saleability of properties.

It argues that rent-a-roof leases, which provide the homeowner with free electricity and the installers with income from the Feed-in Tariff, often run for 25 years without a break clause – deterring potential buyers and lenders alike.

RICS stresses that should structural problems arise from free solar installations, homeowners put themselves at risk of violating the terms of their mortgages due to any potential effect it may have on the property’s market value. The organisation’s official advice, therefore, is that consent should always be obtained from lenders.

Stewart Davies, chairman of A Shade Greener, said: “Our lease and our procedures comply with the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ (CML) guidelines. In fact our in-house solicitor and legal director, Anne Emmerson, was consulted when the CML were formulating these guidelines.

“We have also liaised with mortgage companies individually to ensure that individual lenders’ requirements are also taken into consideration. Since we commenced installing in April 2010, many homes have been sold with our free system in place without any problems and many of our customers have obtained remortgages, again without a hitch.

“Every mortgage company that we deal with (a list of which appears on our website) has confirmed that our lease would have no bearing when considering lending on a property because they are happy with it in place.”

The South Yorkshire-based company adds that no issues have ever arisen over lending requirements to its knowledge following over 7,000 successful installations.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders’ senior policy advisor, Jennifer Bourne, said: “The CML has issued a helpful guide for solar panel providers to help reduce the problems that lenders face when confronted with inadequate leases that would undermine their security or the borrower’s long-term interest.

“By following the guidance, providers will face fewer concerns from mortgage lenders. Of particular importance is the need for providers to ensure they include adequate break clauses in the event of the mortgage lender having to take possession in the event of the borrowing defaulting on their mortgage, and the solar installation having a negative impact on marketability of the property.”

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