Legal Q&A: Can we ask the council to remove their solar panels from our roof?

The council has put solar panels on the house they own next door. The solar panels overlap onto our roof. Can we ask for the solar panels to be removed from our property?
Question: The house next door belongs to the council, which recently put solar panels on the roof that overlap our roof by two panels. Can we ask the council to remove them as they may have damaged our roof? If we want to sell, will the panels be a problem?
Answer: If the council has put solar panels in whole or part over your property without your permission, it is trespassing on your land and you can ask it to remove the overlapping ones.
If the panels have caused damage to your property the council is responsible and must either repair the damage or compensate you for it.
If you do nothing and leave the panels, after a period of 20 years the council could acquire a right to keep them in situ.
If you try to sell your property you would have to disclose the situation to any buyer, which is likely to cause complications.
Ask the council to visit your property, inspect the overlapping panels, remove them and make good any damage.
Alternatively, you could agree a licence with the council to leave the panels in place and negotiate some compensation or a licence fee.
If the council fails to remove the panels, consult its website and follow its complaints procedure, which should be detailed there. If that fails, consult a solicitor if you want the panels removed.
Remember that you may have legal expenses cover under your home and contents insurance policy — it’s well worth checking this out.

What's your problem?
If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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