On a pro bono basis, SulmeyerKupetz represented a married couple to eliminate further tax obligations arising from a PACE-financed solar panel installation on their home.
In 2008, the Obama administration created state-run programs called a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan, encouraging people to make energy-efficient improvements to their homes. Through PACE, homeowners paid nothing down, provided they were willing to pay the amount of the improvement over time as a property tax. In 2008, California was the first state to agree to this program, and in 2015, Los Angeles County agreed to allow PACE loans.
In 2018, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLS) partnered with SulmeyerKupetz in representing a married couple who utilized a PACE loan to obtain solar panels on their home. That transaction arose as a result of high-pressure sales tactics by a contractor who visited homes in the clients’ neighborhood, proposed installing solar panels and convinced the clients that the energy savings from installing solar panels made financial sense. Unfortunately, it did not. Instead, for a marginal savings of approximately $100 per month in utility bills, the clients inadvertently agreed to a tax lien against their home that required them to pay approximately $80,000 over a 20-year period. The clients also failed to sign certain key documents, giving rise to the question of whether the underlying obligations are enforceable even if no fraud occurred.
Working closely with NLS and the clients, SulmeyerKupetz attorney Steven F. Werth was able to eliminate further tax obligations of the clients, and the clients were able to keep their solar panels.