Don’t Become A Victim of A Solar Panel Installation Scam
So How Did You End Up With a Huge Property Tax Bill After You “Went Solar”?
The Problem: You are surprised with an incredibly high property tax bill which will continue for the next 20 years.
How did it happen? You decided to save on your electric bill and help the environment at the same time. You received a visit from someone who offered to help you lower your electric bill through a free government sponsored program, the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. Or you were told the project would cost you some up-front costs, but you would actually make so much electricity, you could sell it back to the utility-you would make money!
Who would turn down such a great offer? Not many folks would. But here’s the catch-the program may have some government aspects, but it isn’t free.
There are other problems as well. A senior may end up with poor workmanship on the installation or they may have been pressured into more costly upgrades: a new water heater or heating and air conditioning system, artificial turf, new windows or any number of other products.
The PACE program was created in 2008 through legislation to encourage energy efficient upgrades and permit financing for those upgrades by adding the costs to a homeowner’s property tax bill.
Elderly consumers have contacted us with reports of home improvement contractors using telemarketing and door-to-door sales to misleadingly negotiate the terms of PACE loans. The contractors reportedly entered elderly consumers into PACE loans without the elderly consumers’ knowledge and without providing documentation, and also without advising the consumers that an increased tax assessment will be placed on their homes.
We have received complaints that elderly individuals with dementia, or who were on medication, were entered into electronic PACE loan contracts they never saw, on terms they did not understand. Several have reported that “sales” were made on cell phones or tablets-they never saw or signed a document.
Some individuals were not provided any documentation until well after they were entered into a tax assessment agreement. We are concerned that these same individuals will eventually be at risk of foreclosure, terrible at any age but especially egregious for an older individual with minimal resources.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:
Take your time before you sign. Ask for and read any documentation relating to an energy upgrade. Make sure you ask for a printed copy and don’t sign anything that seems too complex or confusing. Elder Law & Advocacy will review documents with you at no charge. We are a free legal services organization with a mission to help seniors who are age 60 and over.