Rules for installing solar in complexes and estates in South Africa

 ·9 Mar 2023

Unlike stand-alone homeowners, those who live in residential estates or complexes in South Africa have several rules that need to be considered when looking to install solar.

According to Rozewood, a property management agency surveyed by consumer finance group JustMoney, the regulation and installation of renewable alternative power supplies typically fall under the purview of homeowners associations and sectional title body corporates.

The agency said that body corporates are managed under the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, which is very specific about the manner in which common property can be managed – and approval is vital in this process.

Public installations

Every solar request in such developments requires a special general meeting for public installations, with 33% of owners or their proxies present.

At least 75% of those in attendance must vote in favour of the resolution – which can include the installation of solar on the common property, such as shared rooves or carports.

Rules regarding conduct in the sectional title can be amended. However, the community schemes ombud service must approve them.

Private installations

For private installations, the body corporate should ensure there is a framework to make it easier to install solar. The agency said that solar should be treated with a sense of urgency and not as a discretionary requirement for units.

“If the body corporate is of sufficient size, it can approach suppliers that install solar solutions for the complex as a whole. There are options to fund such installations, with rebates on the rates for owners – although this isn’t feasible for smaller complexes due to economies of scale.”

Homeowners associations

If you are part of a homeowners’ association, it’s important to understand the conduct and architectural guidelines outlined in the memorandum of incorporation. Failure to include provisions for electricity may prompt the association to update its rules.

There is no need for government permission to install solar panels.

“In July 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined government plans to abolish a 100MW licensing cap on private-sector renewable energy projects,” noted the agency.

Options for complexes

James Honiball, chairman and director of Eagle’s Landing Estate Homeowners’ Association, told JustMoney that there are several options for energy conservation that complexes can consider.

  • Renting solar panels for common areas, rather than purchasing them outright, can reduce upfront costs and the risk associated with owning and maintaining panels.
  • Sharing systems or costs with neighbouring properties or developments can dilute costs.
  • Installing batteries to help store excess energy generated by solar panels and making them available for use during periods of high energy demand or when the panels are not generating electricity.
  • Encouraging residents to upgrade their appliances to more energy-efficient models, such as Energy Star-rated appliances. This will reduce the complex’s overall energy consumption.
  • Installing smart meters that can provide real-time information on energy consumption and help residents understand the need to reduce their energy usage.


With a sharp uptick in solar demand, The Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) has pointed to a number of unregulated dealers.

JustMoney said the ombud had received over 200 complaints within a year pointing to issues over no compliance certificates, goods not being delivered and extended installation times.

In addition, almost half of these suppliers refuse to cooperate with the office when it conducts investigations, said the group.

Shafeeka Anthony, the marketing manager of JustMoney, provided the following tips when it comes to sourcing solar for a complex:

  • First, determine your energy requirements
  • Select a reputable company with experienced and skilled staff, good reviews, and references
  • Obtain three quotes that include information on the system size, price, brand, model, and estimated energy production
  • Agree on an installation schedule and make sure to get warranties for both the panels and the installation work
  • Explore financing options offered by banks and solar suppliers, such as rent-to-own or outright equipment purchase
  • Consider insuring your solar system

Read: Warning over new solar scam in South Africa

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