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solar panels

Solar panels – what is the legal position?

4th July 2024 by John Munro

Categories: What's New?

According to standards organisation MCS, more than 183,000 solar panel installations took place in 2023. We answer some frequently asked questions and look at the legal position when it comes to solar panels for homeowners.

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme or MCS is a quality assurance scheme that requires those holding its certification to adhere to a range of standards. The organisation found that 2023 was a record-breaking year for small-scale renewables, with more certified installations of low-carbon energy and heating in the UK than in any previous year.

Solar panels can help homeowners reduce energy bills as well as making a property more eco-friendly. But before they are installed, you need to understand potential legal issues.

What are the legal implications of signing a solar panel lease?

If you are not buying and installing the solar panels yourself but you will be leasing your roof to a company that will instal and own the panels, you need to be wary.

Firstly, your lender’s consent will be needed. They will need written confirmation that the Council of Mortgage Lender’s requirements are met.

If these conditions are not met, then as well as breaching the terms of your mortgage, it can make it very difficult to sell a property as your buyer’s lender is unlikely to agree to lend while the third-party panels remain in place. This means that it would only be possible to sell to a cash buyer, which is likely to negatively affect the price you achieve.

Difficulties have also arisen as a large number of solar companies have ceased to exist, meaning that it is very hard to make any changes to the legal situation.

Companies that do still exist will generally charge a substantial exit fee to release your property from a lease.

You also need to take legal advice on the terms of the lease before you sign, as some terms can be draconian. For example, on occasion, solar companies have required that homeowners obtain their consent before making alterations or additions to the property and before selling it. It may also be the case that the solar company has the right to keep extending the lease for as long as they wish.

Is planning consent needed for solar panels?

While it is often possible to install solar panels under permitted development rules without applying for planning permission, you do need to check whether local authority consent is needed. If your property is in a conservation area, you might not be able to add solar panels without consent.

If your home is a listed building, you will need listed building consent, which will only be granted if the installation does not alter the property and no unacceptable harm is caused.

Neighbours will not generally be able to object to the installation of solar panels, provided you are not breaching any local authority rules and restrictions, although it is good practice to speak to them before you go ahead to warn them of the changes.

How do solar panels affect a house move?

If you own your solar panels outright, it is open to you to take them with you when you move. You must make sure that the buyer is aware that they are not included in the sale price.

It can be time-consuming and expensive to move solar panels however, and they may not be suitable for your new home.

An alternative is to sell them to your buyer, although they might not be prepared to pay extra for them, so you would have to remove them if they declined the offer.

Contact us

To speak to one of our property experts, please contact Kelly Howe on or 01202 377800.

John Munro

Partner — Commercial and Residential Property

Direct dial: 01202 377839


John Munro, head of Property, Laceys Solicitors
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John joined Laceys in 2001 on a training contract, having completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Law in 2000, and qualified as a solicitor in 2003. He is now the Head of the Commercial and Residential Property Departments.

He is also the firm’s Senior Responsible Officer under the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) with overall responsibility for the management of the property team and their delivery of the excellent service that our clients have come to expect.

John acts in his own capacity for a number of commercial property owners, developers and investors, but also allocates time to ensure his team are up to speed with changing law and professional regulations and clients are provided with members of the team who possess the right skills to deal with their individual requirements, delivering projects in the most time and cost-efficient manner.

Outside of work John seems to spend a great deal of time ferrying his children around but occasionally gets to put his feet up and listen to his eclectic collection of vinyl. He is also not averse to a good cheeseboard and a glass of IPA.

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