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Article: Balcony power plants: Cabinet decides on legal relaxation

Balkonkraftwerke: Kabinett beschließt gesetzliche Lockerung

Balcony power plants: Cabinet decides on legal relaxation

The installation of balcony power plants should be easier so that more solar power can be produced in residential buildings - the federal government has therefore decided on changes to tenancy law and the condominium law.

The federal government wants to make it easier to install so-called balcony power plants. To this end, the cabinet initiated changes to tenancy law (BGB) and property ownership law (WEG) on September 13th. The Bundestag still has to discuss the law.

The draft law was drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Justice. It stipulates that electricity generation through plug-in solar devices will be included in the catalog of privileged measures. These are structural changes that cannot simply be blocked by landlords and homeowners associations (WEG). This catalog so far includes conversions for accessibility, e-mobility, burglary protection and telecommunications.

Landlord and WEG: right to have a say, yes, but...

If the law is passed in this way, landlords and the WEG would still have a say when it comes to how a plug-in solar device is attached to the house. Whether such a system can be installed at all would then no longer be fundamentally controversial.

The plans are part of the federal government's photovoltaics strategy, which is due to be implemented in 2023. In August, the cabinet passed a draft law intended to reduce the bureaucratic burden for the owners of mini solar systems .

Draft law: fewer bureaucratic hurdles

The "Draft law to authorize virtual homeowners' meetings, to facilitate the use of plug-in solar devices and to transfer limited personal easements for renewable energy systems" provides for changes to the Condominium Ownership Act (WEG) and the Civil Code.

It is planned that the plug-in solar devices will be included in the list of structural changes privileged under Section 20 (2) WEG to which apartment owners are entitled. In tenancy law in Section 554 Paragraph 1 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the list of structural measures that tenants are entitled to have approved should be supplemented accordingly. This would eliminate the need to justify an application for installation to the landlord or the owners' meeting.

The draft emphasizes the lower effort compared to the current regulations: "The time savings will typically be greater in the case of home ownership than in rental apartments, because requests for the installation of plug-in solar devices currently generally trigger a considerable need for discussion in homeowners' meetings."

In the same law, the Ministry of Justice also wants to facilitate virtual homeowners' meetings . They should be possible if at least three quarters of the owners vote for them.

 BMJ on the legislative process with a link to the draft law and FAQ list

Balcony power plants: This is the applicable law

The legal hurdles are still high and mini solar systems on balconies and terraces are always a controversial topic in court. That could be prevented. The consumer law firm Rightmart points out what tenants and apartment owners should consider to avoid conflicts.

Feed-in limitations and reporting obligations

For solar power from the balcony, there is a legally prescribed feed-in limit of a maximum of 600 watts and partial reporting requirements in the market master data register (MaStR) of the Federal Network Agency and with the distribution network operator. Owners and tenants do not have a general right to operate a balcony power plant.

Approval from landlord or WEG and structural changes

“Whether landlords have to be informed about a system or give their consent depends largely on where the modules are installed,” say the lawyers. Before purchasing, you should definitely have a conversation and obtain written approval.

"If the system is mounted on the balcony parapet, on the outside wall or on the roof, this is a structural change. The consent of the landlord or the owners' association is undoubtedly required, although in relation to the latter, a simple majority is sufficient," explains Sükrü Sekeryemez, lawyer at the consumer law firm.

“The rental agreement may already answer the question of whether solar modules on facades or balconies are permitted or require approval – and what conditions this is subject to,” says Sekeryemez. "For example, installation by a specialist company or proof of the balcony's load-bearing capacity." Consent is also required if a new socket has to be installed to operate the system or the electricity meter has to be replaced because the electrical installation is being interfered with.

Balcony photovoltaics: tips for landlords

A working aid from the umbrella association of the housing industry GdW guides landlords in the implementation of balcony power plants: The paper summarizes the technical requirements of the system, attachment and installation, properties of the pohotovaltaic module, traffic safety obligations, registration and remuneration as well as legal aspects. A checklist “Requirements for granting permission for balcony photovoltaic systems” and instructions for tenant communication are also included.

 GdW working aid for proactively dealing with balcony photovoltaics

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