Renters access solar power via new landlord/tenant partnerships

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Renters solar: A variety of schemes to help renters get access to solar power are popping up in many parts of Australia, according to ABC News Science.

While property owner/occupiers can benefit from installing solar panels, renters are frequently left out of this market. With around 30 per cent of us now renting, that’s a lot of households missing out.

Some industry commentators are saying this is also leading to a tension between the solar ‘haves’ and the solar ‘have-nots’. Smart schemes that offer incentives to both landlords and tenants may be the answer to this dilemma.

Split-incentive solutions

In a standard case of a landlord installing solar, it’s usually the tenant who benefits through reduced energy costs. It’s the landlord, however, who gets left with the installation bill.

Renters solar: tenants are missing out on savings from solar power.

New schemes in Australia are helping renters get access to solar power.

While installing renters solar can add value to the property, it may not be enough of an incentive for a landlord to pay the costs. The same may apply to any negotiated rental increases.

The answer may lie in splitting the costs and benefits of installing solar power systems between both parties. Here are some examples.

Council and community group schemes

Some councils offer interest-free loans to landlords to install solar. The LGA of Darebin in Melbourne is a pioneer in this field. Their Solar Savers scheme allows property owners to pay back the loan through the rates system and pass the loan onto the new owner when they sell the property.  The council may also help with negotiating rent increases with tenants.

Other councils have been following Darebin’s lead by developing similar schemes. Some community groups offer interest-free loans to landlords to install solar panels. They may also assist with negotiating reasonable rental increases with tenants to recover some of the costs.

Apartment dweller schemes

Various schemes are also being developed for apartment blocks or strata units. These include solar in common shared areas, and shared solar schemes.

In shared solar ‘splitter’ schemes for instance a solar company funds the installation, and charges apartment dwellers for the energy they use. This means landlords are not out-of-pocket at all.

Getting the most out of a renters solar scheme

According the the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), both landlords and tenants considering solar-for-renters programs or private agreements should get independent advice before proceeding.

For example, property owners should  speak to a solar expert to get solar energy quotes to ensure they get the best deal. Tenants should also weigh up how much they will save by having access to solar.  Both parties may be able to access independent advice through the ATA or through local community solar groups.