Solar panels ‘not eyesores’

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A SOUTH Yorkshire landlord has failed in their attempt to force tenants to remove solar panels from their homes.

The tribunal ruling - that solar panels are not an eyesore - clears the way for the panels which provide free electricity to become an everyday sight.

W. Redmile & Sons Ltd, freeholders of the newly built Parklands View Estate, in Aston, near Rotherham, took action after two long leaseholders each allowed 18 large solar panels to be erected on their homes.

They wanted to force Raymond and Elaine Butts and Gifford Shillingford to remove batteries from the panels.

But a top tribunal judge has ruled that solar panels are no more annoying than satellite dishes and the landlords’ aesthetic objections to them are insignificant.

The landlords said the panels, which overlook the street and are close to the entrance of the estate which is still under construction, breached the terms of the home owners’ leases.

Professor Caroline Hunter, sitting at the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, agreed the panels were large enough to amount to an addition to the homes and the landlords’ permission should have been sought before they were put up.

But, she rejected W. Redmile’s claim they could cause structural problems and might invalidate the National House Building Council’s 10-year warranty.

She said the company’s aesthetic complaints were insignificant and, had they been asked, it would have been disproportionate to refuse permission.

She told the tribunal: “The panels have been fitted to take advantage of the Government’s scheme which has been developed in order to encourage the use of solar panels as part of the very necessary shift away from fossil fuels to renewable energy”.

Mr Shillingford’s partner, she added, had spoken eloquently of wanting to do this in order to leave a legacy to her children and the wider community.

Professor Hunter ruled: “A ‘reasonable person’ would no more find the panels annoying than they would satellite dishes.”

She rejected the landlord’s claim the panels amounted to using the homes for a trade or business purpose, forbidden under the lease and cleared the tenants of breaching it.