Here Comes the Sun (and Electricity)

March 26, 2012

Here Comes the Sun (and Electricity)

Many leases contain stipulations that tenants may make alterations to their let property with the consent of the landlord and that such consent ‘will not be unreasonably withheld’.

With the economic benefits attaching to the installation of solar panels, it was inevitable that at some point a tenant would seek to install them (or, as in this instance, install them without first seeking the landlord’s permission) only to find permission denied by the landlord. The issue that then arises is whether or not the landlord’s denial of consent is reasonable.

When the inevitable occurred and the case reached court, the landlord argued that the solar panels were a nuisance (an eyesore). The court, however, considered the solar panels to be no more unsightly than satellite dishes, which had not elicited any objections. The landlord’s claim that the panels would make the roof unsafe in the event of a heavy snowfall was similarly rejected.

Although the tenant should have sought the landlord’s permission, this could not have been reasonably withheld.