Homeowners who signed up for free solar panel schemes, which were popular a few years ago, now face problems selling their properties.
Valuable government subsidies designed to encourage the use of renewable energy led to the emergence of many new firms that offered free solar panels to homeowners who would agree to lease their roofs.
Homeowners benefited from free energy when the sun shone and the company, which retained ownership of the panels, pocketed the subsidies.
But now, years later, some of those who opted for the schemes are discovering that they are effectively trapped by the deals.
One reader said he was now unable to sell his home because of the existence of the lease, while others are locked in for more than two decades with no prospect of an exit.
Almost a million homes are equipped with solar panels. Most of them will be owned outright, but a large number are covered by leases. Over time, a series of cuts to the subsidies once offered by the Government meant many companies were forced into liquidation, which meant the leases were sold on.
The removal of the main subsidy, the “feed-in tariff”, is due to take place in April, a move that is likely to worsen the industry’s prospects.
One reader took up a scheme operated by a company called Isis Solar 2 in 2011, by which he benefited from free energy.
The problems began when the 72-year-old tried to sell his home earlier this year and had a buyer pull out, largely because of the panels.
When he was asked to provide additional information to support the sale he tried to contact Isis Solar 2, but found the company was now dormant.
After researching on internet forums he came across Calder & Co, a firm of accountants linked to the company, and eventually managed to find the new owner of the panels. The company was unable to tell him how much he had benefited from the panels.
Initially saying it would cost £10,500 to terminate the lease, the firm later backtracked, quoting him a price of £23,000.
He said: “We are losing sleep over these things. I just want to see the back of them.”
Telegraph Money has established that the reader’s panels are owned by Residential PV and managed by Solar O&M. Although the reader signed a lease with Isis Solar 2, it remains unclear how the companies are linked. Solar O&M is owned by Lawrence Buckley, who was the man behind Isis Solar 2.
Jonathan Moore of Maxwell Moore, a mortgage broker, said those looking to remortgage a house with leased panels could also run into trouble, particularly if they had not informed their lender before installation.
“This problem crops up on a relatively regular basis,” he added. “Like everything, there are lenders out there that will do it, but it starts to restrict your range of options as a customer.”
Others now find themselves locked into long-term leases with no exit. Pam Suryo-Martono, 63, from Lancashire, is stuck in a 25-year lease with a company called A Shade Greener with no exit clause.