cancel a solar lease

Cancelling a solar lease contract

If you were to ask your neighbor who installed solar five years ago about how they financed the system, it’s likely that they’re leasing their solar panels from a large, national solar provider like Vivint or SunRun. It was only recently that solar ownership options – either buying the system with cash upfront or financing through a loan – became the more popular option for homeowners investing in new solar panel systems.


At EnergySage, we sometimes get questions about how to cancel an old solar lease contract. Truthfully, it can be difficult to cancel a solar lease without some sort of legal action. However, there may be other options available to you depending on your specific circumstances.

Why do homeowners look to cancel solar lease contracts?

There are a lot of happy solar customers, and for good reason – properly installed and financed solar panel systems can generate electric bill savings for more than 20 years. In spite of this, there are a number of reasons why you may be trying to cancel your solar lease:

Economics

If you find the right financing option, installer, and equipment, your solar panel system should save you money. While solar lease options typically have less financial benefit to homeowners than owning a system, a good solar lease can still save you anywhere from 10 to 30 percent compared to what you’re paying your utility company for electricity.

The savings you see with a leased solar panel system vary depending on how much electricity your solar panels generate, the rate your leasing company charges, and whether or not your contract includes an annual escalator. While it’s rare that someone pays more money on their electricity bill after going solar, it’s possible to experience higher monthly costs if you’re paying your solar leasing company higher rates than what your utility company is charging for grid electricity. Even if the introductory leasing rate was lower than the utility offering, you may be paying a higher rate now if your annual lease escalator outpaced your utility’s rate increases.

Moving

Life happens, and even if you don’t plan on leaving your home during the 20 years of your solar lease contract, you may have to sell unexpectedly.

When you’re selling a home with a leased solar panel system on the roof, there are options outside of canceling the leasing arrangement: you may be able to transfer the lease to the new homeowner, buy-out the remainder of the lease and have the system removed, or purchase the solar panel system at market-value and leave it on your roof. You may have one, two, or all three of these options available depending on the leasing agreement you signed.

Generally, prospective home buyers consider rooftop solar panel systems an attractive feature, especially when it will save them money on their new utility bills. However, some prospective buyers may not want to inherit a lease they didn’t sign up for.

Service

Another reason you may want to cancel a solar lease is because of the service you’re receiving from your solar lease provider. Large solar companies like SunRun have both positive and negative reviews regarding their customer service. Many complaints about solar leasing companies revolve around service post-installation of the system, such as responding to maintenance calls, questions about bills, and more.  

How to cancel a solar lease post-installation

Most solar lease contracts are difficult to cancel without legal action. Lease agreements tend to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years and are ironclad in structure. In fact, Bloomberg published a story about a prospective homebuyer who experienced difficulties buying a home that had a leased SunRun solar panel system on it – the lease remained in effect even after the death of the person who owned the home and signed the leasing agreement, as the lease was tied to the title of the home.

However, even if you cannot cancel your solar lease, there are often other options available to explore. If you want to cancel your lease because you’re selling your property, you typically have the option to transfer your lease to the new homeowner. Otherwise, many solar leasing contracts specify buy-out options and prices directly in their contract (for example, you can buy the system for $15,000 at year five of your contract). If your contract doesn’t specify exact dates for buyouts, many solar leasing providers offer the opportunity to back out of a solar lease contract at any point by purchasing the solar panel system at the fair market value. This value will change depending on how long your system has been operating and market prices at the time. Importantly, if you buy a previously-leased solar panel system, you may not be eligible to claim the federal investment tax credit (ITC) given that it has already been claimed by the original owners of the system (the leasing company).

Can I purchase more solar panels if I have a leased system on my roof?

Many homeowners wonder if they can buy additional solar panels to add-on to their leased system. While it’s physically possible to add solar panels to an existing system, you can’t purchase additional solar panels to hook up to a system that’s owned by your leasing company. You may be able to work-around this rule if you can purchase an entirely new solar panel system (panels, inverter, etc.) and connect it to a separate electric meter on your property.

How to cancel a solar lease contract pre-installation

If you haven’t had your solar panel system installed yet, you may still have the option to cancel your lease contract. Leasing contracts from SunRun, Vivint, or other third-party owned providers offer a short time frame where you can cancel the contract without incurring any penalty. This time frame may be different from one leasing company to another, but you can expect it to be around 30 days after signing a contract.

In addition, most leasing contracts specify other unexpected circumstances under which cancellations are allowed. For example, if you sign your contract before a roofing evaluation only to find out you need to re-roof prior to going solar, your leasing agreement should allow you to terminate the contract due to the unforeseen additional expense.

Before signing any solar contract, leasing or otherwise, always read the fine print and be aware of your rights to cancel.

Shop around to find the best deal

So long as you find the right installer, equipment, and financing option, you shouldn’t experience buyers remorse after going solar. The best way to ensure you’re getting a good deal before signing a contract is to shop around. By signing up on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, you can receive up to seven quotes from local installers to compare. These quotes will include pricing and savings estimates that you can compare with other options. If you’d prefer to start with a ballpark estimate of solar costs and savings on your property, try our Solar Calculator.


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About Kerry Thoubboron

Kerry is an expert in all things solar! She's worked in the industry for more than 6 years, starting her career as an Energy Advisor dedicated to helping customers compare their options and make well-informed solar decisions. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Analysis and Policy. Outside of work, you can find Kerry snowboarding, watching The Office, or having passionate debates about which New England state is best (spoiler: it's Vermont).

213 thoughts on “Cancelling a solar lease contract

  1. Ashley

    I have had to most awful experience with Sunrun. I purchased a home with a solar lien but before the purchase I asked lots of questions to the Sunrun rep about my options if we did in fact purchase the home. They gave me all kind of ideas on how I could negotiate once I owned it….over the phone, nothing in writing of course. I fell for it, purchased the home and once I started trying to negotiate they went silent. I found out the previous owner was delinquent on the payments, so of course they told me what I wanted to hear so they could start getting paid again. So wrong! I contacted BBB, they helped for a little bit and then closed my case because the resolution was “satisfactory” to them. I have 100 solar panels with a 20 year lease that increases by 2.9 % every year with the current payment being $819/month! By the time we are done paying this off we will have a payment of $1258.08/month. I have spoke to a lawyer about it as well and basically the only advise he could give me was to stop paying the payment and hope they don’t take me to arbitration. This has been such a nightmare and I just can not understand how it is continuing to be legal to attach these solar liens to properties for the next person to take over. So if there is anyone out there with the same issues and has any advise, I am all ears!

    Reply
  2. Jon Gador

    Please include me in this course of action.. Same story. Freedom Forever, one of their vendors, is a scam. came to my house to check the condition of my battery then pulled it out saying its defective then I had to wait for 6 months. They replaced it by mistake and weeks later, they kept bugging me to let them in my house again to take it out for repair or something although I called their office to complain that I did not request for any repair. This is just one story of the scam these people are trying to pull on us. Plus Im paying more than before I had this goddam solar panels.

    Reply
  3. Corey D Lucas

    I bought a home recently and vivit whi o now is surrounded was already on the house the solar company said it comes with the house. I said I didn’t want the system. They said its in the previous owner of home contract. I want to be in the ,get the hell out of this contract law suit. My system was down as well and took them forever to come check. I’m having my roof done and they need to remove the panels so this can be done and there charging ridiculous removal price. Also they we have to store them somewhere for moves cuz they can’t put them back up right away due to they have one team going around doing this. Solar is a scam.

    Reply
  4. Nancy Gomez

    I need some information regarding this company too! My father is of an older age and really doesn’t understand about all this. A sales person from sunrun went up to him telling him about many electricity savings. They installed their services and the person that came sign all the paperwork. They signed and initial and even made an email address for him. Once again my father is of age and is a Spanish speaker only and very old school that doesn’t use the web nor has any idea of an email. So now he received a letter from collections stating he owes $615 in late payments!!!

    Reply
  5. Lori Ann Arnold

    I want to sue Sunrun also. My mother who signed my loan and deed 12 years ago and never paid a single bill decided to add solar to my house against my wants stating she thought it would save me money. In 5/2018 she added a leased system through Sunrun. I as a single female was concerned over roof damages but reassured that any damages caused by solar would be taken care of. I personally (not the person in contract) paid every payment. The first year it was down for 3 months in the ARIZONA summer but I still was required to pay the payment. Then the following summer it was down 5 months blaming inability to get parts due to covid yet I was still required to pay payment. I reached out MANY times to address this and was repeatedly told that at the 2 year mark they rectify the usage so after they did that I was in fact owed for lack of usage.
    Then 10/2021 I arrive home from weekend away. My house was in a sales contract and my window through the wood was pouring in water. The ceiling and wall were mushy and wet. I called my house insurance and another outside company who both pointed to the solar causing the problem. I reported it to Sunrun and was then contacted by titan construction who while on video (we have recorded) stated it was damage upon install 3 years earlier. When the construction guy showed to do inside repair he was actually only scraping off the surface damage then patch and paint. After 3 years he even stated it had evidence of prior damage and showed me sagging at the window ledge. According to the other 2 professionals I had out already to look at the damage the wall needed the drywall replaced, window replaced, damaged blinds and the installation in the attic needed replaced. They refused and actually sent a supervisor to gang up on me to convince me the repairs they were doing was all that was needed. The repair they did do looks terrible and mismatched.
    Then the roofing company they scheduled to come out no showed, no called 7 times in 17 days which led to the cancelation of my house sale. The roofing company dropped a tile off the roof through my patio table which shattered it. They also dropped wire bird spikes from the front (not even supposed to be on the front, no damage there) off the roof which we drove over with our tire while pulling into our driveway. Sunrun didn’t assist me in getting my damages fixed, the owner of roofing company (I have multiple recordings and text messages) accosted me, threatened me, slandered me with statements to the Air Conditioner workers who were at my house totally unrelated to this company. After many attempts to speak with Sunrun and Titan they refused to get involved But wouldn’t ok anyone else to come out. After the roof was finished According to roofing company I saw and reported multiple tiles on lower level now broken from roofers tossing tiles over the edge and them hitting the lower level. There was also roof debris in my kiddie pool. I have made several calls requesting them to finish the repairs as a roof tile was dropped off in my driveway and never fixed. It’s been 8 months so I contacted and asked them to remove they refused. Then asked them to remove so our roof can be inspected and replaced due to the exposure for 8 months as home owners we cannot have anymore damage done to our home. Now they want $170 per panel to remove and doesn’t consider it part of the original problem even though they have yet to send anyone to finish the past damage.
    At this point I’ve got lots of recorded calls filled with misinformation, lies,hang ups, supervisor will call you back (never did).
    I just want this system off my house. I am selling my house and I wouldn’t morally feel good selling such faulty equipment and the service from Sunrun is absolutely NONE.
    Please advise Lori loriarnold@bellsouth.net

    Reply

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