What are the biggest hindrances to rooftop solar from getting optimum production? Shade, whether it comes from a built structure on adjacent land or tree/shrubs on neighboring property. If you live in close proximity to a neighbor whose trees or built structures have the potential to shade your property today or in the future, it is a good idea to consider obtaining a solar easement. A solar easement can clear that obstacle by restricting that neighbor’s right to encroach on your sunshine.

What is an Easement?
An easement is a legal agreement about the use of a property. A solar easement allows property owners to legally protect their access to sunshine. In other words, solar easements give solar system owners the right to negotiate with neighbors for access to unobstructed sunlight on their solar PV Systems. Shading can play a huge role in the efficiency of solar energy reduction. Currently, 31 states provisions for solar easements.

Think about the future!
Solar is a long-term investment. If your neighbor has trees on their property that are in close proximity to your property line and roof, you may obtain a solar easement from your neighbor. Norway maple saplings might look pretty in your neighborhood but remember they are a fast-growing, invasive species. You might soon have a small forest overhanging your panels. A Solar easement in that case which specifies that their trees can only grow to a certain height can help you to get maximum production from your solar panels.

Importantly, all solar easements are voluntary: even if your state or local jurisdiction allows for the creation of solar easements, your neighbor needs to agree to the easement agreement in the first place. However, property owners obtaining solar easements often negotiate by offering some sort of compensation for signing such an agreement.

However, California’s Solar Shade Control Act also allows homeowners to seek court action against a neighbor whose trees or shrubs shade 10% or more of a previously installed solar system.

Essentials of a Solar Easement
While you might have a verbal agreement with your neighbor to trim back their branches but by law or to be enforceable, a solar easement must be in writing and filed with local officials, such as a town or county clerk.

As a legal agreement, a solar easement is a sale of property, and is binding on the property, not the person—so if a new neighbor buys the property, they are legally bound by the easement. Likewise, so is the new owner if you sell your property.

A legally binding solar easement needs to have a detailed description of the easement and the specific area where it is in effect. This often means including specific vertical and horizontal angles that must remain open to sunlight or maximum heights and widths of shrubbery and buildings close to the property line.

Should You Get One?
Solar easements are not just some terms on which you and your neighbour are agreed upon. Further these not that easy to obtain. It is a legally binding agreement that is tied to both your property and your neighbor’s, so you might want to consult with legal counsel to help you craft a solar easement. Litigation costs are high these days and over that, it is a time-consuming and mind-boggling process. Sometimes, you might also need to negotiate with multiple neighbors. What to do in such scenarios?

Before rushing to any lawyer, you must calculate the cost. How much it costs you with the obstruction of trees. Your solar installer may help you to understand that how much energy will be gained with unobstructed panels during a lifetime. Then compare the amount of electricity gained from obtaining the solar easement to the price of lawyers’ fees + “considerations” you are willing to offer to your neighbor.

Here you can do two things: 1. Don’t care about anything and carry on with litigation or else 2. Choose some higher efficiency solar panels on the portion that is unobstructed or in the last 3. Join a community solar program.

So long as your property experiences an abundance of sunshine, you can save on electricity bills with solar power. Call Staten Solar for all your solar needs.