Self-sufficiency is the order of the day. Some focus on their vegetable garden, while others prefer power generation. You can also do the latter if you live for rent or are a homeowners association (WEG) member: with a small photovoltaic system on the balcony. It consists of a solar panel or several solar modules attached to the balcony railing and has a maximum output of 600 watts. According to the Association of the German Solar Industry, the energy provided by such a system can cover about ten to 30 percent of the annual electricity consumption in a two-person apartment.
Plug the mini photovoltaic system into a socket, hope for many sunny days – and go with the power generation. theoretically. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that easily in practice. No building permit is required unless you are stepping into the porch structure. But first you need to ask the landlord if he approves of a balcony solar system. Legal scholar Olaf Recke asserts that “the tenants do not have a legal case against the landlord for permission to install a photovoltaic system.” “You first have to convince him that your additional solar system makes sense and is safe.”
Even a WEG member has no such legal right. It can carry out its request only after the other owners have voted in favor of it by a simple majority at the owners’ meeting. Doing something personal to protect the climate and wanting to save on energy costs as well as signaling a politically required energy transition are good arguments for a small balcony power plant. But this alone is not enough. The owner or WEG usually asks for security. “The critical factor is whether the system is well fixed. In any case, it has to be windproof,” notes author Riecke, author of the book. Can you blind the neighbors? This is also an important question. There are technical solutions on the market that can be used to prevent this. It is wise to think about it as soon as possible.
There are other important aspects that tenants and landlords must consider when planning. A small photovoltaic system must be permitted by building code, be visually unobtrusive, and easy to professionally disassemble and install. In addition, you must not pose any danger to others. The issue of fire protection also plays a role here.
The cost of the balcony power plant must be borne by the tenant himself
If all of these criteria are met, the landlord cannot refuse consent, as the Stuttgart District Court found in a case heard in 2021: the landlord repeatedly demanded that the tenant remove the mini-PV system because it did not comply with the “contractual use” of the apartment. The justices decided that the solar system must survive, and they also cited environmental protection, which the Basic Law establishes as a national goal. However, they forced the tenant to retrofit in terms of storm protection because one expert found deficiencies here (Az. 37 C 2283/20).
The costs incurred in connection with the balcony mini power plant shall be borne by the tenant himself. This also applies to the individual owner, unless the community of owners sets itself the goal of generating solar energy on the terraces in the future. If one applicant gets an affirmative vote, but just doesn’t get yes votes, it may not work with the mini-solar system at the moment: other owners can challenge the decision and justify it by saying that the modalities for that are not precise enough wording. The Paderborn District Court also ruled in this spirit in September last year: The blanket approval of the WEG to install photovoltaic systems on balcony railings at its own expense was too vague (Az. 52 C 9/22).
In order to avoid legal action and hassle, Riecke recommends drafting a legally safe text with binding specifications on the topic of additional solar systems for the decision. He finds it reasonable, for example, to stipulate that it must be registered with the responsible network operator and that an electrician must check whether the system is safe. WEG can also mandate certain VDE standards for solar modules. The judge wrote a model corresponding to the text, which he presented as a speaker at seminars or at conferences for professionals in the real estate industry. There are no case law worth mentioning currently; However, in the coming years, the legal researcher expects many judgments to be issued on mini-solar energy systems.
How does a small balcony power station change the appearance of the facade? This topic should not be underestimated either, notes Olaf Riecki. It can also be important for homeowners, especially if it is a semi-detached house or terraced house. “If the facade no longer looks uniform, it may disturb the neighbors.” His advice: communicate with them at the right time to avoid disagreements.