Solar home owner rights at stake in court battle with developer over solar power system

Clean energy projects bid for CleanCo contracts in Queensland.

Solar home owner rights are in dispute as a Queensland home owner is waiting for a Supreme Court decision on her right to install a solar power system on the roof of her house.

Pauline Tyler was astounded when Oxmar Properties objected to the solar panel array she installed on her newly built Griffin Crest Estate home in Moreton Bay.

According to a covenant signed by home owners at purchase, the developer can subsequently restrict modifications which affect the look of the housing estate.

However, this appears to contradict body corporate bylaws mandated by the Queensland Government. A covenant “cannot prohibit or restrict the installation of a solar hot water system or photovoltaic collectors” in order to preserve a building’s “external appearance”.

Because the Supreme Court verdict is pending, Ms Tyler is waiting on a decision with big implications for Australian home owners seeking solar quotes.

Solar home owner rights: Horns locked over orientation of rooftop solar panels

As reported by Channel Nine, Oxmar Properties has asked Ms Tyler to move the solar panels from her north-facing roof to the south. They would then face the rear of the property, rather than the street.

Solar home owner rights: Queensland woman's right to install a solar power system in her new home awaiting a Supreme Court decision.

Queensland home owner awaits court decision on right to install a solar power system in her new home. Image: Pixabay

However, on advice from her installer, Ms Tyler claims her $5,000 solar power system would be “useless” in the new location.

Oxmar Properties subsequently engaged their own solar installer, who says the panels would work with 15 to 20 per cent less efficiency.

Yet Ms Tyler refuses to compromise. The solar power system has already reduced her quarterly electricity bill from $360 to $43 and she therefore wants it working at full capacity.

Interestingly, other homes in the Griffin Crest Estate also have solar panels. These are not seen as having a negative impact on the appearance of the estate.

Right to install a solar power system, access sunlight

Queensland bylaws show how governments and councils protect home owner rights regarding solar panel installations.

They make it easier for homeowners and builders to then install sustainable building features and designs.

Yet other householders are also battling developers who want to build large structures overshadowing their home solar power.

According to a 2017 ABC news report, rules around access to sunlight for solar panels vary from council to council.