Many homeowners across California are being unlawfully tricked into financing solar panels for their homes by door-to-door salespersons and phone solicitors who misrepresent the terms of the sale. Recently, HERA assisted the Madrizes of Madera, California, who were misled into financing the installation of solar panel system on their roof by a salesman who knocked on their door. The Madrizes are monolingual Spanish-speakers and the salesperson told them in Spanish that his company could install solar panels on their roof that would save them hundreds of dollars on their energy bills. The salesman told them they would pay $118 per month for 15 years and that they would receive a 30% tax reimbursement. He also said the company would be responsible for the upkeep of the panels and would fix them if needed.
After this explanation, he had Mr. Madriz sign a contract written entirely in English, which the Madrizes could not read or understand. He never told Mr. and Mrs. Madriz that they would be financing the cost of the solar panels with a loan. The contract only briefly mentioned financing and had dramatically different terms than were explained by the salesman, including $118 per month payments for 19-years accruing 5.99% interest per year. However, they did not understand those terms because they were written in English.
The solar panels were later installed, but never connected to the electric grid, and therefore never functioned. Despite this fact, the financing company continued to bill the Madrizes for the loan. They were shocked to receive their first bill with a $17,160 balance. Desperate for help, they contacted HERA. HERA helped them file a complaint to the Contractor State Licensing Board about the contractor’s failure to provide a functioning solar panel system. HERA also sent the financing company a letter rescinding the loan based on the salespersons’s fraudulent misrepresentation and the failure to provide the Madrizes with a copy of the contract in the language in which it was negotiated, as required by Civil Code section 1632.
HERA has assisted other clients rescind solar panel contracts that were obtained based in misrepresentations about the terms and without providing a copy of the contract in Spanish after Spanish-language negotiations about the terms.
HERA continues to represent several other clients who have been misled into financing their solar panels and other home improvements based on terms that differ from what was promised and/or not provided a copy of the contracts in the language in which it was negotiated. If you are facing such a problem, you should contact us for assistance.
Visit us online www.heraca.org or call us at 510-271-8443
*Image shown is a sample image of a home with solar panels.