Queensland Reforms To Better Back Homeowner Solar Rights

Queensland homeowner solar power rights

A bill introduced to Queensland’s Parliament yesterday seeks to reinforce the rights of homeowners in the state to install solar panels.

Back in 2018, SolarQuotes reported on a situation where homeowner Pauline Tyler was taken to Queensland’s Supreme Court over her solar panel installation as she didn’t seek approval from the estate’s developer first – a contractual requirement.

Retrospective approval was sought from the developer, but this was knocked back on the grounds of aesthetics. While Ms. Tyler was permitted to relocate the panels to the back of her house, which is south facing and the worst direction for solar energy generation, she refused to move the panels from their street-facing location.

The judge ruled in the homeowner’s favour, but it was an expensive battle and the developer decided to appeal the decision – and won. The developer was also awarded costs, leaving Ms. Tyler with a $130,000 legal bill and the prospect of having to sell her home to pay it. That was in 2021 and how everything has panned out since isn’t clear.

Banning The Solar Banners

It’s this type of situation the Palaszczuk Government’s Building and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 should stop from happening in the first place. In fact, it shouldn’t be needed as there are existing laws in place and the Queensland Government has been accused of not defending those laws in this particular circumstance.

But it seems the rules needed tightening up.

“The Bill fixes the uncertainty around the application of the ‘ban the banners’ provisions, protecting homeowners from developer covenants restricting where solar panels can be placed,” stated Minister for Public Works Mick de Brenni. “This is a further step in allowing Queenslanders to play their part in achieving our renewable energy ambitions and addressing climate change.”

The explanatory notes for the Bill note the original intent of the ‘ban the banners’ policy was to ensure developer covenants and body corporate by-laws could not prevent installation of solar panels or solar hot water systems, nor restrict where they are installed purely based on aesthetics.

The notes acknowledge a court decision – the case mentioned above – made it necessary to make the spirit of the provisions crystal clear; which is allowing a homeowner to install a solar power system (or solar hot water) on the roof or other external surface of their home or garage, without regard to aesthetics.

Assuming this Bill passes, it’s good news for Queensland homeowners who have been prevented from installing solar by a developer or body corporate based on aesthetics. But it may be cold comfort for Pauline Tyler, whose case dragged ineffectiveness of existing laws into the spotlight and who went through years of stress and expense fighting the situation. Here’s hoping there’s some assistance for Ms. Tyler if none has yet been delivered as sometimes law and justice can be very different animals.

The Bill’s notes indicate the amendments will provide relief for any homeowner who has been inhibited from installing solar infrastructure on the basis of aesthetics since 1 January 2010 – but that won’t pay Ms. Tyler’s eye-popping legal bills.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. It points out what is the point of private house ownership if developers can control what one can with their house has been purchased. And why would the developer care, it’s developed the estate and walks away. Any issues with the house once the warranty expires, is left to the house owners. What’s the developer’s interest in private home ownership once it’s passed hands. That would be like a car manufacturer telling owners, they’re not allowed to change the colour of their car that is not on the scheduled colours sold at the factory. Who cares if someone paints their car hot pink with green spots? Sure, it’s out of place, not our business what the owner does with it, as long it’s roadworthy and the driver has a licence.

    Sounds draconian to me. Reminds me of the ridiculous HOA is in the USA, they have some very weird requirements and they all differ. In the land of brave and free and liberty, HOA shouldn’t even exist in the US, it’s affront to the value of liberty for freehold owners.

    The developer should be countersued for persecutorial actions – that is by imposing financial distress to home owners unnecessarily. It’s not like the homeowner that painted the house pink with green spots which would be an eyesore.

    I hope the Qld government puts it back on the developer to reimburse costs and let that be a lesson to all developers that they don’t have full control over private ownership of homes once they change hands.

  2. Paul (middle name used for fear of developer reprisals) says

    I couldn’t work out what the date of effect of these changes was; my developer has only recently restricted my solar panel placement/told me to move them. Does this cover me (is it retrospective) or will it only cover others once it is law…in 6+ months?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      As far as I am aware, you should be protected from having to restrict the location of your panels if they were installed from 2010, so you should be right. But note I am not a lawyer and I’m not in Queensland.

      • The Bill has now been enacted – the changes are now the Law covering anyone on a restrictive covenant back to 2010 so hopefully this settles it finally – good result for common sense.

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