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Solar panels – what happens to the Feed-in Tariff when you move?

More and more and people are asking the question: what’s the score with the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) if you decide to up sticks and move house.

It is, after all, a pretty important question, particularly when taking into account the length of the scheme. Twenty years is a long time after all. And let’s face it in this day and age it’s rare for home owners to stay put in the same place for two decades. Apparently your average family in the UK moves house on average every seven years . So it’s an issue that needs addressing.

While buy-to-let investors may well be chomping at the bit at the prospect of installing the systems and making money from FiTs for the long term, for the average home owner there’s every chance that somewhere down the line they are going to want or need to sell up and move home. So if you have solar PV panels installed on your property – or if you’re currently considering it – the fact that you’ve got this technology installed on your roof cannot be overlooked.

Can I take my solar panels with me if I sell up and move?

According to energy regulator Ofgem, FiT payments are made to the home owner or operator of a solar PV system and as a general rule if you as a home owner were to move house the payments would normally transfer to the new property owners. So no. The fact is ownership of the system is linked to the property; it’s not possible to move an installation to another property as this would then have to be treated as a new installation. Given that the equipment had previously been registered under the FiT scheme once would mean that if you were to remove the solar panels the system would be seen as essentially ‘second-hand’ and therefore couldn’t be registered as a ‘new’ system for FiTs. But not only that, the solar panels will have been tailored specifically to fit the dimensions of your roof and the direction in which your roof faces.

So the solar panels have to stay put on the roof?

Yes. When a property with a solar installation is sold the equipment and the associated FiT payments are sold along with the home. Solar panels will most likely be classified as ‘fixtures’ and in normal circumstances would be included in the house sale. After all, if you have an new central heating boiler fitted you wouldn’t think of ripping it out and taking it with you when you move, would you?

Research has revealed that solar panels are favoured by house buyers as an attractive add-on when house hunting. A property with solar panels is deemed to be more saleable compared to a similar property without a solar PV system. Whether or not the property market will take that into consideration when it comes to a property’s valuation remains to be seen. There appears to be no official guidance as yet from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in this respect. However, don’t overlook the value of an energy efficient property in terms of calculating the costs of running a property and how attractive that can be to energy conscious house buyers.

What are the benefits of installing solar panels?

  • Lower energy bills for starters – a 2.8kWp system should be able to generate in the region of 40% of your annual electricity needs.
  • Cheaper or free electricity!
  • More environmentally friendly – doesn’t generate harmful greenhouse gases so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment and the planet.
  • Cut your carbon footprint – you could reduce your home’s annual carbon footprint by 20% if you were to install an average sized solar PV system.
  • Reduce your reliance on expensive fossil fuels.
  • And then of course there’s the added benefit of generating a guaranteed tax free income for 20 years thanks to the Feed-In tariff – until you move home.

 

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