11-01-2012

Tribunal gives guidance on tenants installing solar panels

Landlords may find they cannot unreasonably refuse to allow tenants to install solar panels, following a recent Tribunal decision.

Tenants in a property installed solar panels in the roof without asking their landlord’s permission. The landlord claimed the panels were a nuisance, which meant the tenants were in breach of their lease. It said that, had it been asked for permission, it would not have granted it.

The Leasehold Valuation Tribunal ruled that:

  • The panels were no more intrusive than satellite dishes, and so they were not a nuisance.
  • The tenants should have asked permission before installing them.
  • The landlord could not unreasonably withhold permission.

The landlord argued that the panels would make the roof dangerous if there was heavy snow, and would invalidate his insurance policy. The Tribunal ruled that the risk of danger was insignificant, and that a refusal would therefore be unreasonable.

Recommendation

Landlords should review what their leases say about solar panels (and other renewable energy sources) and be clear when any refusal to approve them must be reasonable.