Solar Generation in Multi-Unit Dwellings & Barrier Implementation

November 15, 2018


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Multi-unit dwellings in Australia is a huge industry. Since 2009, the number of apartments being constructed each year has tripled, accounting for one third of residential building approvals. Surprisingly, this increase in construction equates to nearly half of all investment in new dwellings for the 2016 year.

With such a large portion of new developments being multi-unit dwellings, it is clear that the demand for solar generation into multi-unit dwellings will increase.

What is a multi-unit dwelling?

A multi-unit dwelling is a building, or a group of buildings, capable of being used for multiple self-contained residences, that has been subdivided and has Common Property.

Common Property is the areas that the building owns and is responsible for – lifts, foyers, fences, roof space, etc.

Typical examples include:

  • Apartment buildings,
  • Retirement Villages,
  • Broadacre developments, and
  • Town Houses.

As a consequence of subdivision and the presence of Common Property, an Owners Corporation must be created to manage the multi-unit dwelling.

An Owners Corporation is also known as a Body Corporate depending on the state or territory.

Why Solar Generation in Multi-Unit Dwellings?

Renewable, localised generation is expected to play an important role in the establishment of the electricity landscape in the future. Consumers are already grappling with the rising cost of electricity, the threat of reliability, and the necessity of reducing their carbon footprint. The result, a push towards electricity independence and electricity self-sustainability.

As new multi-unit dwellings are being developed, we’re slowly seeing the uptake of solar generation; this may be because of local council requirements, a niche for greener buildings with higher NABERS scores, to drive higher efficiencies, or even just to boost property value – which appears to be an ongoing debate.

But what if you’re an owner or a renter in an existing multi-unit dwelling, and you want to implement solar generation? For whatever reason…

The average cost of implementation has decreased substantially over the past 5 years, we’ve had, and will continue to have, generous rebates and grants from local councils and state and federal governments, and financing options are readily available. At face value, implementing generation seems to present a tremendous opportunity for the multi-unit dwelling, occupiers and solar providers.

However, what if you physically can’t pursue Solar Generation? You’ve lost your independence and the opportunity for self-sustainability.

This is, unfortunately, the reality for many owners and renters within residential multi-unit dwellings simply because they don’t have any roof space to implement generation.

Primary Barrier to implementing Solar Generation in Multi-Unit Dwellings

It is the fact that the site is a multi-unit dwelling with a group of Owners. The primary barrier is the Owners Corporation.

Why? Simply, because most roof spaces are Common Property, and therefore any changes to the Common Property needs to be signed-off by the Owners Corporation.

The sign-off requirements are a little different for each state and territory; however, in Victoria any significant alteration to the use or appearance of the Common Property must be approved by a special resolution – which is 75% in agreement. That is Section 52 of the Owners Corporation Act 2006 (VIC).

This issue is a problem for both Owners and Renters, and not just a barrier for implementing solar generation, it includes all products that alter the Common Property – such as, an Embedded Network, Battery Storage, and EV Charging.

It’s not all doom and gloom…

ENM Solutions has developed a proven and tested process to help maximise the chances of gaining approval for Solar Generation, or any other Common Property changes (such as an Embedded Network), in a multi-unit dwelling. It includes three fundamental points that ensures Owners are informed about what they are voting on and how it will effect them moving forwards, it creates a reliable source of information to base their decision on, and it creates a shared vision for Owners to discuss.

With no way to guarantee the outcome of any vote, we believe we’ve found the best starting point!

For further information, please contact us at:

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