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Terrible experience selling house with SolarCity/Tesla Energy panel lease on it

gtmotor

Member
Apr 8, 2018
218
337
Arizona
Cliff notes: If you plan to install a Solar City / Tesla Energy system on your house and EVER plan to move, find a different company.

Caveat: I'm a huge Tesla fan, own 2 vehicles and (formerly) their solar array. Their service has always been terrible since day 1 but I figured the product advantages outweigh the inconvenience.

Now my story about the solar array, they messed up the transfer so bad that I feel like I to take time out of my busy day to post about it. They somehow assigned 250+ transfers to one person (poor dude) who was so overloaded he would either take forever to respond or wouldn't at all. I gave them a HUGE amount of notice before selling the house, almost 3 months before we even listed it because I knew they were backlogged (again changing my own routine/pattern to try to accommodate Tesla) and they still foxed it up. It took 4 months after the sale to transfer with daily calls and pestering by myself and the new homeowner. I sold the house to a friend so we both were aligned in calling Tesla and trying to get it sorted. This whole experience has soured him so much on Tesla as a company that he cancelled his plans to buy a Model 3. I finally just stopped paying for the lease after making a few payments on a house I didn't even own and never heard anything back from them... so in hindsight, if you're doing a transfer just stop paying the lease as soon as the house is sold and let them deal with it. They probably won't even come back and try to collect anything.
 
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azred

Active Member
Apr 12, 2016
1,987
2,951
Chandler, AZ
Sorry to hear about your Tesla experience, but I wouldn’t buy any used house with a solar panel installed — regardless of brand. If there was such a thing as a lifetime roof, perhaps I would change my mind. But of course even tile roofs require replacement of underlayment over time. I have had roofers tell me stories of customers who were shocked to learn their “permanent” roof was no such thing. At the time underlayment needs replacing, my current tile roof will surely experience tile breakage and mismatched reaplacements. Adding the cost of removing and reinstalling panels is way more hassle than the benefits. Of course I understand many posters here love their panels.
 
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CCIE

Member
Aug 31, 2017
363
684
CT
I'm in the middle of buying a house with a Solarcity PPA from 2014. The per-kwh rate they're charging isn't great and goes up 2.9% per year for the 14 years remaining on the agreement (total ripoff rate after ~10 years). So, I considered the system a liability and demanded a price concession to account for half its cost over next 14 years.

I also had to pull teeth with Tesla to get the transfer paperwork. I don't really care how long it takes Tesla to process it after closing, because the existing owner will be liable for the payments in the meantime. But, I agree with you that the whole process is terrible.

Tesla doesn't actually do PPAs anymore. But, depending on how much actual production someone get from one of their new rental systems, it could be almost as bad as a PPA.
 
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markb1

Active Member
Feb 17, 2012
3,077
689
San Diego, CA
Sorry to hear about your Tesla experience, but I wouldn’t buy any used house with a solar panel installed — regardless of brand. If there was such a thing as a lifetime roof, perhaps I would change my mind. But of course even tile roofs require replacement of underlayment over time. I have had roofers tell me stories of customers who were shocked to learn their “permanent” roof was no such thing. At the time underlayment needs replacing, my current tile roof will surely experience tile breakage and mismatched reaplacements. Adding the cost of removing and reinstalling panels is way more hassle than the benefits. Of course I understand many posters here love their panels.

A concrete tile roof should last 50 years, which in many cases will outlast the solar panels. And the solar panels will help protect the part of the roof that they cover. Certainly, the cost of re-roofing is something to consider when buying a house (whether it has solar or not), but that's just a dollar amount you can add on before deciding if the house purchase is worth it or not.
 

Hightower

Member
Aug 21, 2020
7
2
Lancaster, PA
Cliff notes: If you plan to install a Solar City / Tesla Energy system on your house and EVER plan to move, find a different company.

Caveat: I'm a huge Tesla fan, own 2 vehicles and (formerly) their solar array. Their service has always been terrible since day 1 but I figured the product advantages outweigh the inconvenience.

Now my story about the solar array, they messed up the transfer so bad that I feel like I to take time out of my busy day to post about it. They somehow assigned 250+ transfers to one person (poor dude) who was so overloaded he would either take forever to respond or wouldn't at all. I gave them a HUGE amount of notice before selling the house, almost 3 months before we even listed it because I knew they were backlogged (again changing my own routine/pattern to try to accommodate Tesla) and they still foxed it up. It took 4 months after the sale to transfer with daily calls and pestering by myself and the new homeowner. I sold the house to a friend so we both were aligned in calling Tesla and trying to get it sorted. This whole experience has soured him so much on Tesla as a company that he cancelled his plans to buy a Model 3. I finally just stopped paying for the lease after making a few payments on a house I didn't even own and never heard anything back from them... so in hindsight, if you're doing a transfer just stop paying the lease as soon as the house is sold and let them deal with it. They probably won't even come back and try to collect anything.

This is extremely informative and helpful. I really wish I would have seen this weeks ago when I accepted the offer on my house. I've submitted the form twice. Called several times. Emailed their regular energy support team twice. I got a response the first time I submitted the request form back on 6/30/20. Nothing since. Can't get through to anyone. I might just go to the local service station and ask them if they can help me. I'm not friends with the buyers and I doubt they'll help me with the transfer. I just killed my auto-pay, so maybe that will force them to call me. Really disappointing. I had such great customer service with SolarCity. I'm guessing they got rid of that entire team in the acquisition.
 

gtmotor

Member
Apr 8, 2018
218
337
Arizona
Sorry to hear their service still sucks.

Here's my one year update: They never transferred ownership over to the buyer of my old house and we gave up trying. I haven't paid them anything in over a year but the solar array still shows up in the Tesla app as "my home" and I can still see everything about it including real time power generation etc.
 
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SoCal Dave

Member
Jul 30, 2020
421
317
California
Sorry to hear their service still sucks.

Here's my one year update: They never transferred ownership over to the buyer of my old house and we gave up trying. I haven't paid them anything in over a year but the solar array still shows up in the Tesla app as "my home" and I can still see everything about it including real time power generation etc.

Has the buyer been paying anything?
 

BrettS

Active Member
Mar 28, 2017
2,141
2,566
Orlando, FL
Sorry to hear their service still sucks.

Here's my one year update: They never transferred ownership over to the buyer of my old house and we gave up trying. I haven't paid them anything in over a year but the solar array still shows up in the Tesla app as "my home" and I can still see everything about it including real time power generation etc.

That’s crazy, although if I was in your position I would be worrying that you are putting yourself at a bit of risk here. You still signed a contract with them and at some point they may notice that you haven’t been paying and come after you for the money that’s owed on the contract, take you to collections, and/or hit your credit report for the non payment.

If you have proof that you sent the transfer documentation a year ago then I feel like it is likely that you could hopefully get things sorted out and fixed in the end, but they could still make thing pretty miserable for you until that happens
 

Hightower

Member
Aug 21, 2020
7
2
Lancaster, PA
Sorry to hear their service still sucks.

Here's my one year update: They never transferred ownership over to the buyer of my old house and we gave up trying. I haven't paid them anything in over a year but the solar array still shows up in the Tesla app as "my home" and I can still see everything about it including real time power generation etc.
Wow, that's crazy. So the system is still generating but is anyone getting credit for that electricity? Is it showing up on the bill of the buyer? I could probably work something out with my buyer's, but only if one of us is getting credit for the electricity. And obviously I'd have to put money away for the day that Tesla eventually realizes what is going on and asks for back payment.
 
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charlesj

Active Member
Oct 22, 2019
1,268
296
Monterey, CA
Are all of these issues tied to leasing? I assume if you own the system outright none of these issues exists.
I am pretty sure it is for a leased system only as you don't make payment to Tesla otherwise. I guess if you have a loan to have your system installed that is a different story, that is not a leas.
Fortunate that I don't have either.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,517
3,507
Northern California
I am pretty sure it is for a leased system only as you don't make payment to Tesla otherwise. I guess if you have a loan to have your system installed that is a different story, that is not a leas.
Fortunate that I don't have either.

Makes sense. We purchased outright and I was pretty sure there should be no issue with conveyance if we sold the home,
 

Hightower

Member
Aug 21, 2020
7
2
Lancaster, PA
I'm going to call my electric utility company on Monday and explain the situation. I'm curious to understand what's going to happen to the electricity that the panels are going to generate once I move out and cancel the service in my name at this address.
 

Hightower

Member
Aug 21, 2020
7
2
Lancaster, PA
I'm going to call my electric utility company on Monday and explain the situation. I'm curious to understand what's going to happen to the electricity that the panels are going to generate once I move out and cancel the service in my name at this address.
Spoke to the Utility company. They confirmed that whoever lives at the address with the panels will receive credit for the energy they receive. Happens automatically, no additional steps required.
 

TheTalkingMule

Distributed Energy Enthusiast
Oct 20, 2012
7,570
31,803
Philadelphia, PA
Are all of these issues tied to leasing? I assume if you own the system outright none of these issues exists.
Yes, these are all old SolarCity PPA(lease) contracts. It's a real pain to transfer these, but it really shouln't have to be. Tesla cut loose all the sales teams after acquisition and have move to online pricing, but their service is now mediocre at best and I expect them to address it quite soon.

General customer service on the Energy side is the one glaring weakness and can be fixed pretty easily. I expect it'll be lightyears better by next spring and issues like legacy PPA transfer will have a standard solution by then too.
 

CjRichMar

Member
Aug 21, 2015
110
89
Houston, TX
Well this sucks. I just started on my "transferring a Solar City lease to a house buyer" journey and thus far, my situation has been similar. How long should I wait on the "I'm closing today and I need help" line before I hang up? So far it's been 52 minutes.
 
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emchen

Member
Aug 15, 2015
164
103
Valencia, CA
I've a Sunrun PPA that I inherited from the previous owner. Signover was straightforward in 2013. I've been plotting some way to get out of the PPA since. Is there REALLY no way?
 

Laketime

Member
Dec 13, 2020
168
117
LI NY
I've a Sunrun PPA that I inherited from the previous owner. Signover was straightforward in 2013. I've been plotting some way to get out of the PPA since. Is there REALLY no way?
There may be a way if you purchase the system from them but it may not make financial sense. For prospective people I would highly recommend NOT leasing a system. This is your home, make sure you own the roof you sleep under...
 
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h2ofun

Active Member
Aug 11, 2020
3,048
661
auburn, ca
There may be a way if you purchase the system from them but it may not make financial sense. For prospective people I would highly recommend NOT leasing a system. This is your home, make sure you own the roof you sleep under...
totally agree that this leasing stuff is just money for them, at the expense of the homeowner. Just like reverse mortages.
 

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