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Landlord FAQs

Getting Started

How do I know if my property is suitable?

Working out if Matter’s solar service is viable for you will depend on a few things about your property, its tenants and their lifestyles.

Electricity usage in your property

The tenants’ current consumption and usage patterns will act as a good guide to the size of the solar system you will need. Daytime energy use, like running air conditioners, will see the best returns from Matter’s solar service. You (or your property manager) should ask the tenant for a copy of a recent electricity bill to make an accurate assessment

The property’s location

Yes, location matters. The sun shines differently in different places, so you will need fewer solar panels for the same energy output in a sunny part of the country compared with a more cloudy location. Simply put, the same systems installed in Brisbane and Melbourne will produce different outputs and earn different returns.

Orientation, design and shading

This affects the design of the system you’re likely to need. Large north facing roofs (in the Southern Hemisphere) with 15-35 degree pitch and no shade are the best for solar. Your solar designer will be able to advise you if you need to do anything special for your system.

Type of building

Right now we’re focused on rolling out the Matter solar for rentals service to detached, semi-detached, terraced houses and dual-occupancy properties. Soon  we will be able to support other mixed residential, multi-tenant and commercial properties . To find out if we can set up solar for rentals on your property drop us an email and one of our team will get in touch.

How do I make money?

Matter gives property investors a new source of income on rental properties by enabling you to install solar on your roof and charge your tenant for their solar electricity usage at a discount to their grid electricity.

Our hardware monitors the solar production on your premises and provides online access – through the Matter dashboard – to the solar production and energy consumption data. Then Matter issues an invoice for the Tenant’s solar consumption on your behalf.

If a tenant can cover a good portion of their daytime energy needs with solar, say 50% or more, the economics start to become attractive for both parties.

As an example, imagine a tenant, Tina, a married mum of two who works from home and rents a 3 bedroom home in Sydney’s outer suburbs on a 12 months lease from Wes, the landlord. Her current utility charges her 30 cents per kWh for energy and her annual bill is $2,656.00, about $51.00 a week.

If Tina signed up for Wes to provide her with solar power at 24c/kWh, a 20% discount to the utility price, sourcing half her energy from the grid and half from Matter’s solar service, over a year Wes could earn around $1,060.00 and Tina save around $265.00.

The excess energy that Tina doesn’t use goes back to the grid through Tina’s utility supplier who will pay a feed in tariff of around 6.2c/kWh. If Wes agrees to share 20% of that tariff with Tina he’ll earn another $60 a year and Tina will earn $15.00. That takes Wes’ earnings up to $1,120 per annum and Tina’s savings to $280.00.

Tina benefits immediately from the savings. Wes should work out the best way to maximize his return on investment. This will vary depending on his circumstances, how he chooses to finance and depreciate the asset, and his tax position across his investment property portfolio.

The case for Matter’s solar service is compelling with typical returns of:

  1. Increased yields of 20 to 30 basis points, payback in 5 years and an expected life of 25 years.
  2. A 5 times greater ROI over that of the investment property itself.
  3. A net present value of 3 times the cost of the system and IRR of over 20%.
Can I sign up if I already have solar panels installed?

Yes you can, you’ll just need to get Matter’s smartbox and monitoring technology installed and get your tenant signed up.

If you’ve already got a tenant in your premises then you or your agent will need to let them know that to ensure the up-keep of the solar system, you are bringing a new solar management system online.

We then suggest you take the following steps:

  1. Explain that Matter’s solar service requires no effort from them other than being party to the agreement with a simple signature.
  2. They will still receive cheaper, clean energy, however a small percentage of the benefit they enjoy will now be set aside for system maintenance.
  3. The tenant will also be able to more accurately track and predict their energy usage with the Matter dashboard, helping them modify their energy usage habits and leading to greater savings.
Can I sign up if I manage my own property?

Yes, we can remit Digital Solar payments from your tenant to you directly or to your property manager, whichever you prefer.

What regulations govern the service?

Even though Matter’s solar service is about solar not grid electricity, our Terms of Service afford various protections for tenants that meet applicable regulations in relation to charging tenants for electricity. They can be read here.

Under the regulations landlords are able to earn a profit from selling energy, solar or otherwise however customers should be charged “fair and reasonable energy costs” and the seller should not take advantage of the potentially lesser bargaining power of the customers. Also the seller must not charge a small residential customer more than the local area retailer’s standing offer.

The point of Matter’s solar service is to create a win-win for landlords and tenants. Matter recommends that a discount of 20% off the renter’s grid electricity contract is provided. This ensures that property investors receive a fair payback on the solar investment and the tenant gets cheaper bills (in addition to meeting regulatory requirements).

The solar will only offset some of the tenant’s daytime electricity so they need to keep a grid electricity contract and pay their bills directly to their energy retailer – Matter isn’t involved in this arrangement.

Making your tenant an offer

Making your tenant an offer

Will the tenant still need a grid electricity supply?

Yes, because solar only generates electricity during the day, and the amount generated is dependent on the weather. Your tenant will still need a grid electricity supply to cover their evening and additional daytime needs.

What happens if the tenant moves out?

The solar service contract with your tenant starts once the solar system and Matter’s monitoring technology has been installed, and continues until the end of the tenant’s lease. The contract automatically continues if the lease is renewed or extended (including any holding over or continued occupation of the premises).

You or your property manager need to notify us if a lease has been terminated and you want to end the solar service (for that tenant). Once you’ve notified us that a lease has been terminated.

Before a new tenant moves in they can be signed up to recommence the Matter solar for rentals service.

Getting paid

Do I get paid for energy sent back to the grid?

Solar energy production continues whether the energy is being used or not. Solar energy that is produced but not consumed by your tenant is exported from your property to the electricity grid.

When this occurs, the person with the site’s grid electricity bill in their name (usually the tenant) receives a payment called a Feed-in Tariff from their energy retailer for the exported power.

If you request, Matter will charge your tenant on your behalf a rate of up to a maximum of 6c per kilowatt hour. Your tenant will keep anything above this rate that they negotiate with their energy retailer.

If you have a property with an existing solar system and an electricity account in your name that has a high Feed-in Tariff, please speak with your Matter consultant to keep this benefit.

How do I get paid?

On your behalf Matter emails your tenant with a monthly invoice for the solar energy they have consumed, and collects payment from them by Direct Debit.

If you request that payments be sent to your property manager we will remit them at the end of each month. Payments not cleared by the end of the month will be sent to your property manager in the subsequent month. You can update us on any change in property management via email.

If you prefer we will remit your Matter payments to a bank account you nominate via PayPal, direct deposit or other payment methods, as described on our website. These payments will be remitted at the end of each month for each property. Payments not cleared by the end of the month will be remitted in the subsequent month.

What happens if a tenant doesn’t pay on time?

Matter collects payments by Direct Debit to minimise late payment. If an invoice remains unpaid for more than 21 days, we will issue a late payment notice and contact the tenant. Whilst bills remain unpaid we may charge increased rates until the tenant’s account is brought up to date.

If the account remains unpaid for three consecutive months we will advise you of the following options:

  • Disconnect the solar power (to be reconnected only once the outstanding amount is paid in full)
  • Terminate the solar service agreement with the tenant if they do not make payment in full within 21 business days of a notice.
What happens if my tenant has financial difficulties?

Under the applicable laws your tenant has a right to request financial assistance which you may provide at your discretion. Available assistance includes:

  1. waiving interest on overdue amounts;
  2. identifying appropriate government concession programs and appropriate financial counselling services; or
  3. request that we review the solar service agreement to determine whether it suits the tenant’s needs.

On disconnection of the solar system your tenant should be made aware that they will be charged the full amount of grid electricity from their licensed energy retailer which will increase their bills.

Please contact Matter directly to assist you in handling disconnection, reconnection and financial difficulties.

Is my income taxable?

Please obtain independent professional advice to determine whether the solar power supply is taxed.

What are the subscription fees?

In consideration of our provision of the service we charge a non-refundable flat subscription fee of $168 (incl. GST) paid annually in arrears - it starts from the second year of your service.

For larger sites, we charge 5% of the solar service charges in arrears. Most residential sites will not generate enough solar power fall into the category of ‘larger sites’.

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