Up on the roof
Councils must consider the impact of photovoltaic panels on right to buy sales, says Linda Storey
With the expected increase in right to buy sales, it is important council landlords consider the impact of leases entered into for the provision of solar photovoltaic panels on the sale of houses.
The usual arrangement is for the freeholder to lease the roof space to a feed-in tariff provider. So what will be the effect on that lease if the tenants exercise the right to buy? Is there an ability to break the contract? Are there any restrictions in the lease on the disposal of the property? What rights, obligations or reservations can be imposed on a right to buy purchaser if the panels are to remain in place, such as the right for maintenance and ongoing payment of the FIT?
It is not yet clear whether the presence of PV will deter right to buy purchasers or if it will affect the valuation. Values may be depressed if purchasers cannot carry out improvements such as loft conversions. Mortgages may also be restricted as some lenders have remained loath to accept the provisions of the leases for the roof space.
Councils also need to consider the fact purchasers may wish to install PV after exercising the right to buy. Clear policies need to be in place which should consider:
- whether reasonable people having regard to the ordinary use of a house would suffer nuisance;
- if the structural integrity of the roof is safe;
- if it would it be disproportionate to refuse consent;
- if the arrangement amounts to use as a business and if it does, whether this a breach of any covenant.
Linda Storey is a partner at Penningtons Solicitors