Queensland rebates encourage landlords to install rooftop solar for renters

There are promising prospects for renters in Queensland who are keen to join the rooftop solar revolution, with a trial program attracting strong interest from renters in regional north Queensland, and the state Government is encouraging more renters to take advantage of the trial.

The Government has revealed that $660,000 in grants used to support landlords install rooftop solar on their rental properties were awarded in the first seven months of the program.

Renters have long been locked out of the market for rooftop solar, as tenants have little incentive or ability to install systems on properties they do not own, and may only inhabit for a few years. Landlords have likewise had little incentive to install solar when they are unlikely to see any direct financial return.

One core aim of the Queensland trial is to break down the complexities and difficulties of negotiating an arrangement between tenants and landlords that may wish to agree to the installation of a rooftop solar system in return for a modest increase in the rent.

The Queensland has sought to address this split incentive by providing a rebate of up to $3,500 to landlords to help cover the cost of installing solar on a rental property.

The Queensland government has created a calculator to assist both renters and landlords estimate the potential benefits to installing solar, and what a “fair” increase to weekly rent may look like.

To be eligible for a rebate under the trial scheme, both the tenant and the landlord must agree to the installation of solar power on a home located in either Townsville, Bundaberg or Gladstone.

The rebate is also limited to households currently being rented for less than $350 per week, and to provide an incentive for landlords there must be an agreement to a “fair increase” in rent, and a commitment to lease the property for a further 12 months.

The program has been trialled in regional north Queensland communities, with the Queensland energy minister Anthony Lynham pleased with the level of interest in the program.

“More than 580 landlords and tenants, in three trial cities – Townsville, Bundaberg and Gladstone – have registered their interest with 192 systems already installed,” Lynham said.

“Here in Townsville, more than 280 landlords have registered their interest to share rooftop solar with their tenants and 111 are already up and running.”

Townsville based solar installer Zoe McCarron said that Townsville has been a hotspot for rooftop solar installations and that many tenants had used recovery efforts after the town was hit by flooding to install solar.

“Being a local company run by local people it’s great to see so many landlords investing in solar, particularly after the devastation of the floods,” McCarron said. “This program has opened up the opportunity to those renting, so that they too can now benefit from the savings of solar power.”

The Queensland Government is offering up to 1,000 rebates for rental property installations, on a first come first serve basis. The trial program will run until the full 1,000 rebates have been allocated, or until 30 June 2020.

With 192 rebates already allocated, the State member for Townsville Scott Stewart encouraged eligible households to take advantage of the rebate offer.

“I’m urging Townsville residents today to get on board now. This is the chance for landlords and tenants to enjoy the same savings that more than 500,000 Queensland homeowners are enjoying,’’ Stewart said.

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