Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Lawyer warns ownership issues for solar panels could get heated

The smallest SunGenie should supply about half an average Auckland home's power needs. Photo / Thinkstock
The smallest SunGenie should supply about half an average Auckland home's power needs. Photo / Thinkstock

An Auckland lawyer is warning about solar panel issues, saying house buyers and sellers could fall into a trap if they don't know who owns them.

Joanna Pidgeon, vice president of Auckland District Law Society, said network companies like Vector often retained ownership yet the system was not set up to handle that quirk.

"The current agreement for sale and purchase of real estate states that all electrical and other installation on the property are free from any charge whatsoever and that any chattels included in the sale are the unencumbered property of the vendor," she said.

"Obviously there are implications for purchasers of properties with solar panels and they should make the proper inquiries.

"Vendors need to be on top of the issue with solar panels before the beginning of the sales process and make sure their real estate agent understands the options so there is no misrepresentation that the solar panels are being sold with the property and that the contract can deal with issues."

Have you struck trouble when buying a house over who owns its solar panels? Email us here.

Vector spokeswoman Sandy Hodge said her firm was happy to brief the Real Estate Institute on solar panel ownership. "There are no issues with ownership of the SunGenie when a home is sold. Our contract with our customer lays out all the options available."

Vector supplies SunGenie and house sellers could either sign a new contract to switch the unit to the new owners if they met her firm's criteria, or pay a disconnection fee so the unit could be removed.

"When an owner sells their house, they contact us and together we work out what is best for the customer," she said.

The smallest SunGenie should supply about half an average Auckland home's power needs if it was installed on a shade-free north-facing roof with a 25-degree pitch.

- NZ Herald

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