Queensland’s Government Kicks Off Solar For Rentals Rebate Trial

Solar For Rentals rebate - Queensland

Image: moerschy

A huge number of Australian households who are renters are locked out of solar power savings. A new initiative from the Queensland Government is trialling a way to help address this – but there are a few catches.

According to statistics gathered from Census 2016, 30.9% of all occupied private dwellings in Australia were rented – a total of 2,561,302 dwellings. Of occupied private dwellings in Queensland, 34.2% were rented (566,478).

Lack of access to solar power for renters is something we hear about quite often and while some services have started up (and some failed) to address this segment of the market1, little real progress has been made.

Queensland’s Palaszczuk Government has already run solar trials for public housing and has now turned its attention to the private rental market.

Under the $4 million Solar For Rentals program, up to 1,000 landlords with properties in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Townsville will have the opportunity to receive a rebate of up to $3,500 on the installation of a solar power system2. A rebate can be sought for each rental property owned.

Solar For Rentals Rebate Structure

The amount of rebate available is based on capacity of the system to be installed:

  • $2,500 for systems 3kW to 3.99 kW
  • $3,000 for systems 4kW to 4.99 kW
  • $3,500 for systems 5 kW or larger

This is in addition to Australia’s existing “solar rebate“. 

Between the two incentives, the purchase and installation cost of a good quality 6kW system could be reduced to as little as $2,100 – $5,500, depending on installation specifics. A 3kW system installation should cost anywhere between $0 – $1,500, although a larger system could be more attractive to tenants with families and add more value to the property. The Queensland Government points out a landlord may also be able to claim depreciation on the post-rebates cost of the solar power system.

As to who will get the feed in tariff, that will go to the tenant as the tenant will be the electricity account holder. If the premises becomes unoccupied, the landlord could then become the account holder.

Warning: Rising Rental Costs Ahead

One of the conditions of the trial is the tenant must agree to having a solar power system installed and also be willing to pay higher rent. However, any increase must be “fair and reasonable and agreed by both parties”. Perhaps many tenants would be prepared to spend a little more on rent in order to save a lot more on their electricity bills.

Among the other conditions is the house on which solar panels will be installed must be rented for less than $350 a week. Tenants will also need to end their current leases in order to enter into a new lease covering the solar installation and rent increase. The higher rent kicks in 3 months after the new lease is signed or the date the solar power system is installed (whichever is later).

“This trial is to encourage more renters and landlords to work together in reducing energy consumption through sharing the value of installing solar systems, said Queensland Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham

For solar installers wanting to participate in the Solar For Rentals scheme, they’ll need to apply and be signatories to the Clean Energy Council’s Solar Retailer Code of Conduct3 or an equivalent code of conduct. 

A list of current approved suppliers can be viewed here, but bear in mind it’s always a good idea to check out installer reviews as part of due diligence.

Commenting on the initiative, SolarQuotes Founder Finn Peacock said:

“I’m all for helping tenants benefit from solar power, so I applaud this. It will be interesting to see how popular it is with landlords.”

Finn says after spending most of his life renting, his experience has been most landlords are loathe to spend one cent more on their properties than they absolutely have to.

“I suspect the only way to solve the tenant/solar problem is to remove the landlord from the equation,” he says. “Possibly by enabling renters to access Australia’s PV subsidy for investing in commercial solar installations  – perhaps even government properties – and have the value of the benefits from their share of the system taken directly off the tenant’s electricity bill.”

The Palaszczuk Government’s Solar For Rentals rebates will be available until June 30, 2020, or when funding has been exhausted. Further information on the trial can be found here.

Footnotes

  1. e.g. the Gigawatt Project and Matter (the latter is no longer operating)
  2. Yes, that adds up to $3.5 million assuming the maximum rebate is issued in each case. $500,000+ in administration costs?
  3. i.e. a CEC Approved Solar Retailer
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. Daniel Debreceny says

    The problem with renting, is that the property is not yours, it is the owners.

    Allowing tenants to make changes to fixed infrastructure can potentially leave the owner at risk of insurance claims & cleanup costs.

    If a renter has a “deal buster special” solar system placed on the house by a shonky (god knows how) CEC accredited, or CEC “member”, solar installer, the house could burn down, the system might not work, the tenant can leave the house & leave the clean-up to the owner.

    Further, for strata properties, the body corporate might be actively blocking solar systems based on aesthetics & etc.

    We had a similar issue recently, when our tenants had a TV satellite Dish relocated to the front, and other property members in the block complained about the aesthetics.

    • Patrick Comerford says

      The article infers that the Landlord will be the one who decides which solar system he /she would select. So the renter is not involved.
      Also you are right about the obstructionism of some body corporates in regard to installing external devices to the building(s). However with respect to the installation of rooftop solar Queensland law prevents a body Corpoarate rejecting an application to install solar panels on aesthetic grounds.

  2. barry lewis says

    i have permission to put solar on at my rental property but the landlords will not help with dollars towards it.i was going to pay the bulk of the bill so given a choice wether i good do this as a renter has a lot more appeal for me.it would still be here after i leave so the landlords still get all the benefit

  3. Is this still available

  4. Absolutely shameful that rent increase is included! Installation is a landlord issue and long term landlord profits will boom while renters may end up in same net position!

Speak Your Mind

*

GET THE SOLARQUOTES WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
%d bloggers like this: