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Seller doens't own Solar Panels

Hi all,

I was wondering if anyone might have experience/ advice for this situation we've found ourselves in:

My partner and I are around a week away from completing on our first home (Scotland,) and we have just found out that the current owner doesn't own the solar panels on the roof, nor has he benefited from them in his ownership. Long story short, the previous owner installed the panels in 2012 and sold the house to the current owners in 2023. The only paperwork I've seen about the panels is the installation document from Scottish Power, which is under the 2012 owner's name 

The seller's solicitor has asked if we can still complete next week, and they'll start the change of ownership process today (which takes 3-12 weeks)

I've read some horror stories on here about FiT rights and the like. Am I being ridiculous when I say that I'd want to wait until the solar panels are in the current owner's name before completing despite the seller's solicitor saying he has started the process? Would I be correct in saying that the 2012 owner could still be benefitting from the FiT? How can the seller sell something he doesn't own? So many questions!

Much stress! Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Isaac
«13

Comments

  • anselld
    anselld Posts: 8,242
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    You are correct to establish a clear position before exchange (or the Scottish equivalent).
    It is possible that the panels were never owned by the previous owner either; they may have been installed by a third party under a lease agreement, so-called rent-a-roof scheme.
    Assuming they were indeed owned by the original owner then he could possibly have been claiming FiT, however this would be difficult to do legitimately because he would have needed the readings taken from the generation meter.   Given it was only 2023 it may just be that nobody got round to the paperwork yet, in which case the current owners will be due some FiT payments from the date they purchased once they make the transfer.
    Either way it needs to get sorted and there is no reason it should take signicant time as Scottish Power FiT department are reasonably responsive in my experience.
  • Keep_pedalling
    Keep_pedalling Posts: 16,161
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    edited 30 January at 1:40PM
    The horror stories are with the rent a food type installation where the home owner does not own the panels. It sounds like in this case the current owner does own the panels they are just not getting the feed in tariffs because the transfer was never made. 
  • eddddy
    eddddy Posts: 16,115
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    IsaacK said:

    My partner and I are around a week away from completing on our first home (Scotland,) and we have just found out that the current owner doesn't own the solar panels on the roof, nor has he benefited from them in his ownership. Long story short, the previous owner installed the panels in 2012 and sold the house to the current owners in 2023. The only paperwork I've seen about the panels is the installation document from Scottish Power, which is under the 2012 owner's name 


    I'm no expert on this, but what makes you think the current owner doesn't own the solar panels?

    Perhaps the current owner hasn't registered for a FiT (i.e. the current owner doesn't sell electricity to their electricity company) - but that doesn't mean they don't own the solar panels.


  • IsaacK
    IsaacK Posts: 11
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    anselld said:
    You are correct to establish a clear position before exchange (or the Scottish equivalent).
    It is possible that the panels were never owned by the previous owner either; they may have been installed by a third party under a lease agreement, so-called rent-a-roof scheme.
    Assuming they were indeed owned by the original owner then he could possibly have been claiming FiT, however this would be difficult to do legitimately because he would have needed the readings taken from the generation meter.   Given it was only 2023 it may just be that nobody got round to the paperwork yet, in which case the current owners will be due some FiT payments from the date they purchased once they make the transfer.
    Either way it needs to get sorted and there is no reason it should take signicant time as Scottish Power FiT department are reasonably responsive in my experience.
    That's great to hear, thank you very much for that - put me at ease (slightly.) My understanding is that it's not the rent-a-roof type as the mortgage lender inquired into it. 

    So from what you're saying, it's just a case of not keeping ontop of paperwork. That'd be cool if true. Thanks again!


  • IsaacK
    IsaacK Posts: 11
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    eddddy said:

    I'm no expert on this, but what makes you think the current owner doesn't own the solar panels?

    Perhaps the current owner hasn't registered for a FiT (i.e. the current owner doesn't sell electricity to their electricity company) - but that doesn't mean they don't own the solar panels.


    It's more of a concern that I haven't gotten the documentation I expected, especially after being told that they were in use by the current owner. Not sure what to believe at this point
  • ProDave
    ProDave Posts: 3,614
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    We have just sold a house with solar panels.  They were installed in 2012 paid for by me as home owner, they were my panels and we claimed the FIT until we sold.

    I have given the new owner all the details they need including confirmation that they now own the panels as they were included in the sale.

    I looked into how you transfer the remainder of the FIT to the new owner, and it appears the new owner has to apply to the FIT supplier to take over the remainder of the FIT contract.  The information they need to do that is FIT providers name, FIT contract number, Generation meter MPAN number and proof of ownership of the panels.  So it is all that information you require from your seller.

    My buyer did not make this a condition of the sale, this was either trust or they just did not know, so I provided all that information to the buyer immediately after completion.
  • mexican_dave
    mexican_dave Posts: 244
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    IsaacK said:
    ..... My understanding is that it's not the rent-a-roof type as the mortgage lender inquired into it...

    Did your mortgage lender "look into" this?? Your lender is unlikely to do this, they will rely on information from your conveyancing solicitor, who will be providing the lender with the property details in accordance with the terms of your mortgage contract. Don't be complacent.
    The mortgage company will want to know who owns the kit on your roof, and if it's rent-a-roof what are the terms of the lease. If it is rent-a-roof you might struggle to find these details if the owner is unable to help. The Scottish Power documentation could be for electrical upgrade (maybe fuseboard/distribution board) at owners cost, to enable connection to solar PV. Suggest having a trawl through the various Certification bodies to locate the PV installation certificate eg NAPIT; NEIEC; etc. A copy of such a Certificate should tell you who the "customer" was, ie paid for the work, that would be the FiT company. Here the plot thickens! These are often "fronts" for another company, but they are traceable! Having found the ultimate owner of your PV panels, the lease details will only be released to the property owner, so the seller will have to do the last bit. A real pain, I have been there as a buyer!!!

  • mexican_dave
    mexican_dave Posts: 244
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    To cut a long story short, the property could be difficult to mortgage (in England) without a rent-a-roof lease agreement, if it is rent-a-roof. So explain this to the seller, it might focus his mind!
  • IsaacK
    IsaacK Posts: 11
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    ProDave said:
    We have just sold a house with solar panels.  They were installed in 2012 paid for by me as home owner, they were my panels and we claimed the FIT until we sold.

    I have given the new owner all the details they need including confirmation that they now own the panels as they were included in the sale.

    I looked into how you transfer the remainder of the FIT to the new owner, and it appears the new owner has to apply to the FIT supplier to take over the remainder of the FIT contract.  The information they need to do that is FIT providers name, FIT contract number, Generation meter MPAN number and proof of ownership of the panels.  So it is all that information you require from your seller.

    My buyer did not make this a condition of the sale, this was either trust or they just did not know, so I provided all that information to the buyer immediately after completion.
    Good to hear from a seller's POV. I suppose the only difference is that the current owner can't prove he owns the panels as there are no documents in his name and he also hasn't taken any FIT payments

    Thanks for letting me know what info was required, that's really useful!
  • IsaacK
    IsaacK Posts: 11
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    Did your mortgage lender "look into" this?? Your lender is unlikely to do this, they will rely on information from your conveyancing solicitor, who will be providing the lender with the property details in accordance with the terms of your mortgage contract. Don't be complacent.
    The mortgage company will want to know who owns the kit on your roof, and if it's rent-a-roof what are the terms of the lease. If it is rent-a-roof you might struggle to find these details if the owner is unable to help. The Scottish Power documentation could be for electrical upgrade (maybe fuseboard/distribution board) at owners cost, to enable connection to solar PV. Suggest having a trawl through the various Certification bodies to locate the PV installation certificate eg NAPIT; NEIEC; etc. A copy of such a Certificate should tell you who the "customer" was, ie paid for the work, that would be the FiT company. Here the plot thickens! These are often "fronts" for another company, but they are traceable! Having found the ultimate owner of your PV panels, the lease details will only be released to the property owner, so the seller will have to do the last bit. A real pain, I have been there as a buyer!!!

    Good to know we stand in solidarity! 

    The doc from Scottish Power is the MCS certificate by the looks of it, which outlines all installation checks and locations of solar panels/ consumer units. It also states that the SSEG owner is the person who had the panels installed in 2012, so I suppose that puts to rest whether it's some sort of rent-a-roof scheme or not.

    Not to sound like I'm wearing my tinfoil hat, but I think you could be right about the company being a front, as the company that installed the panel doesn't seem to exist anywhere. Fun!

    I suppose all I can do is ask that the seller sorts out their mess out before completing  :#
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