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HELMS (Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Ltd) and Green Deal complaints

This advice applies to Scotland

Use this page if you were a customer of Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) and want to complain about your Green Deal loan or energy efficient home improvements.

Who were HELMS

Home Energy and Lifestyle Management Ltd (HELMS) were a company that sold energy efficient home improvements like:

  • solar panels
  • external wall insulation or cladding
  • under-floor heating
  • new boilers.

HELMS are now dissolved. This means they’re no longer an active company and aren't selling to customers. 

HELMS might have signed you up for a Green Deal loan. This was a way to borrow money to pay for energy-saving home improvements. You pay the loan back in instalments through your electricity bills. In some cases it was a loan of thousands of pounds. Find out more about the Green Deal

Many of their customers have told us they did not know HELMS were signing them up to the Green Deal or what the financial impact was of the Green Deal. Many HELMS customers now face higher energy bills, energy debts, secondary loans they didn't need, faulty goods, missing building warrants and problems selling their property.

Did HELMS scam you

Gather any paperwork you have about your energy efficiency home improvements. You should also make notes about any phone calls or meetings you had with HELMS salespeople. Write down what they said or didn’t say about your home improvements and the Green Deal. 

To see if you were scammed, check the common warning signs below first. 

Next, check for specific warning signs if you have:

Common warning signs you were scammed

You might have been scammed if you:

  • were told the home improvements were free - you might have got a grant for some of the cost, but not all
  • didn't know you had been signed up to the Green Deal - did you understand what you were signing or was there anything you didn’t sign?
  • weren't told the Green Deal was a loan with monthly repayments - you might only have realised when your energy bills went up
  • weren't told all the facts about the Green Deal - for example, how much the monthly repayments would be and the length of the loan
  • were told that you had to get all the improvements in the energy performance certificate to qualify for a grant or for the Green Deal finance
  • felt pressured into buying products that you didn’t want
  • have other loans for the home improvements - you might have been told you needed another loan as well as the Green Deal or to make an upfront payment.

If you’re not sure if you were scammed, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for help. Bureaux in Scotland have been helping HELMS customers and other people with Green Deal problems to complain. 

HELMS sold you solar panels

Check if any of these common problems experienced by people who were sold solar panels by HELMS apply to you. If they do, you can complain.

You agreed to the Green Deal finance agreement for the solar panels without all the facts

You might have been misled if you:

  • were told the solar panels would be free 
  • were signed up to the Green Deal without your knowledge
  • were asked to take out other loans to pay for the solar panels
  • were asked to transfer the feed-in tariff (FIT) to another company without being told what the FIT was.

If you believe you were misled about the Green Deal, you can complain. 

Your solar panels are wired incorrectly or incompatible with your electricity meter

You should check that your solar panels are:

  • wired correctly - in some cases this might be unsafe
  • compatible with your electricity meter - not all meters work correctly with solar panels.

If they're not, the energy usage and generation might be recorded incorrectly. If you own your FIT, you might not be getting the correct payments. It's also a potential safety hazard.

HELMS should have made sure your meter was correctly recording how much energy is used and generated.

Check any paperwork you have for the company that installed your solar panels. Check if you have a warranty. 

If you have any concerns about the wiring, contact the installer and or an independent electrician to check it’s safe. Ask them to write a report. 

Contact your energy supplier if the savings on your energy bills aren’t what you expected or you think your meter isn’t accurate.

Once your energy supplier is aware that your meter might not be suitable, they must make sure the meter is appropriate. This responsibility comes from schedule 7 of the Electricity Act 1989. You can quote this in a letter or email to the energy supplier if you need to. 

Your solar panels are damaged or faulty

If your solar panels are damaged or faulty, you should check your Green Deal paperwork for a warranty or a guarantee from a third party, for example the Independent Warranty Association (IWA).

If you’re covered by IWA, you should contact them to tell them what’s wrong with your solar panels:

IWA Deposit and Guarantee Protection
Victory House
400 Pavilion Drive
Northampton Business Park
Northampton
NN4 7PA

Tel: 01604 521 100
Email: enquiries@iwa.biz
Website: www.iwa.biz

They will usually send a claim form after you’ve contacted them.

You didn’t get a building warrant for solar panels

You don’t always need a building warrant for solar panels in Scotland. But a building warrant might be needed for conservation areas or listed buildings. 

You can be fined or ordered to remove building work completed without a warrant. Not having a building warrant might also mean your home and buildings insurance isn’t valid.

You can check with your local council to find out if you needed a building warrant for your solar panels. 

Check if there are other people in your area who are also affected. You might be able to speak to the council as a group. In some cases, you might be able to apply for a building warrant retrospectively. 

If you don’t have a building warrant but now realise you need one, include this in your complaint about HELMS.

You transferred your feed-in tariff for the solar panels

The feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme is a government programme to encourage people to install products that generate electricity, like solar panels. You can find out more about the FIT scheme on the Ofgem website. 

The owner of the FIT will get payments from energy suppliers for 20 years and the tariff is index linked. 

You can find details about the FIT rates on Ofgem’s FIT rates page.

There are two parts to the tariff payment:

  1. the generation tariff - a payment for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced, whether the owner uses it or not
  2. the export tariff - a payment for every kWh of electricity that is not used and is exported to the national grid.

Consumers could pay for the cost of installing solar panels either with a loan like the Green Deal or by transferring ownership of their FIT to the installer. HELMS might have got customers to do both, which might have been unnecessary.

Check if you own your FIT

If you own your FIT, you should get annual or quarterly payments for the energy made by your solar panels. If you don’t get any payments, it’s likely someone else owns your FIT.

HELMS may have got you to transfer ownership of your FIT to another company, such as PV Solar Investments Ltd (PVSI). PVSI has the same company director as HELMS. 

You might have signed an agreement called a 'transfer of rights to payments to PV Solar Investments Ltd'. You might also have documents that say your FIT was 'assigned to' another company. 

You might not have been told you were transferring ownership of your FIT or told what you were signing. 

If you transferred the FIT for your solar panels to HELMS or PVSI, it will have been registered by PVSI. PVSI will get the quarterly payments for the energy your solar panels make for up to 20 years. 

How to get your FIT back

If you get the FIT back, you will get payments for the energy your solar panels make for the time remaining on your scheme. 

If you’re selling a house with FIT and the buyer doesn’t want the FIT to sit with another party, for example PVSI, you might need to think about buying it back. 

If you want to get the FIT back for your solar panels, you can:

  • complain - you should complain to the FIT owner if you believe you were misled into signing away your FIT
  • buy it back - contact the FIT owner to discuss this directly with them. 

You should check if buying back the FIT would be financially worthwhile. Check your statement for how much the payments would be and how long you’ll get them for. It might not be worth buying back the FIT if it will cost more than your payments will be. 

Contact PVSI at: 

PV Solar Installations (PVSI)
PO Box 2082
Glasgow
G32 8BS

Get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau if PVSI don’t reply. 

If you're making a HELMS complaint that includes a FIT

In your HELMS complaint, you should include:

  • copies of any paperwork about the FIT 
  • details of how HELMS explained the FIT to you 
  • why HELMS said you needed to transfer the FIT. 

Some people weren’t told they were transferring ownership of their FIT. If this happened to you, make sure you put this in your complaint. Find out how to complain about HELMS

HELMS sold you external wall insulation or cladding

HELMS customers have reported problems with external wall insulation or cladding. If any of these apply to you, you can complain.

You agreed to the Green Deal for the wall cladding or insulation without all the facts

You should complain if you believe you were misled about the Green Deal plan and you wouldn’t have signed up to it if you had known all the facts.

You might have been misled if you:

  • were told the wall cladding or insulation would be free 
  • were signed up to the Green Deal loan without your knowledge
  • weren't told the Green Deal was a form of credit with monthly repayments for up to 25 years
  • were asked to take out other finance to pay for the wall cladding.

You don’t have a building warrant for your external wall cladding or insulation

External wall cladding or insulation usually requires a building warrant from the local council. HELMS might have told you that you didn’t need one or that they would apply for the building warrant. We are aware of customers who HELMS did not get a building warrant for.

You can be fined or ordered to remove building work completed without a warrant. Not having a building warrant might also mean your home and buildings insurance isn’t valid. 

You can check with your local council to find out if you needed a building warrant for cladding. 

Check if there are other people in your area who are also affected. You might be able to speak to the council as a group. In some cases, you might be able to apply for a building warrant retrospectively. 

If you don’t have a building warrant but now realise you need one, you can include details of this in your HELMS complaint.

Your wall cladding was poorly fitted

HELMS might have fitted your wall cladding or insulation incorrectly.

The company that supplied the wall insulation materials to HELMS should have given you a guarantee. If you have the guarantee, this should tell you the name of the company. You can contact them about your wall cladding issues.

If you don't have a guarantee, contact your local citizens advice bureau for help. 

HELMS sold you other energy efficiency products

HELMS might have sold you:

  • under-floor heating
  • energy-efficient light bulbs
  • a new boiler
  • new radiators.

If HELMS told you these would be free, didn’t explain the Green Deal loan or didn’t tell you there would be monthly repayments through your energy bill, you can complain.  

If the energy efficiency measures weren’t installed correctly, you can contact the company that issued you with a guarantee. 

HELMS sold you more than one loan

If HELMS sold you other finance agreements, these might be with a different company. The agreements might have been taken out at the same time, probably with the HELMS salesperson.

Look for any documents that say 'credit agreement' or 'loan'. 

Include details of all the credit agreements you were sold in your complaint about HELMS. 

If you were pressured or misled 

You might have been pressured or misled into agreeing to these other loans.

You should complain directly to the company the credit agreement is with. This is separate to your complaint about HELMS. If you're unhappy with how the company responds, you might be able to complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman

There are time limits for taking action, so don't wait. Find out more about time limits on the Financial Ombudsman Service website. 

You might be able to get:

  • your loan written off
  • payments refunded, plus interest 
  • compensation
  • your credit history restored.

Next steps - how to complain about HELMS

If HELMS scammed you, you can send your complaint to the secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), or the Green Deal Finance Company. BEIS is the part of the UK government responsible for the Green Deal.

Find out how to complain about HELMS

You should also contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or have energy debt. 

Being scammed can be very distressing. Find out where you can get emotional support

HELMS often sold solar panels and cladding to people on the same street. Check if there’s local support available to you, like social media groups. Your local councillor, MSP or MP might also be able to help.

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