There has been some recent media coverage about the sale of a property with a leased solar power system that was incorrectly included as a chattel in the agreement and has ended up in dispute between the seller and their agent.
It is important to ask a seller if there are any "leased fixtures" at a property, such as solar panels, and what they want to happen with them when the property is sold.
The seller's main options are:
- The solar panels are purchased outright by the seller and sold with the property;
- The lease for the solar panels be assigned to a new owner;
- The lease agreement is terminated, and the panels are removed from the property and returned to the provider.
The first step is to review the lease agreement to see if it records what is to happen in the event of a sale. If the seller doesn't have a copy of the document, get them to contact their solar provider for a copy.
The seller should notify the solar panel provider of their intent to sell so the provider can advise what options are available to the seller and of any fees payable for terminating the lease, assignment to the new owner, or paying out the remaining amount left on the lease. Some of these fees can be quite high and will vary between the different options and providers. The costs involved with the different options may help a seller decide how they want to deal with the leased solar panels.
If the property is being sold at auction, dealing with any leased fixtures can be tricky, particularly if the seller wants to give the buyer the option of deciding whether or not to continue with the solar panels. We recently acted on a sale via auction which included a further term allowing the buyer five (5) working days to decide whether or not to take over the lease, purchase the solar panels from the provider, or have the seller arrange for the solar panels to be removed prior to settlement in a workmanlike manner.
When a property has solar panels or other leased fixtures, it is important to discuss the different options with your seller and find out the costs involved so that all parties can work out the best way forward and record things correctly in the agreement.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.