At best they are mincing words and at worst they are being intellectually dishonest. A fixture filing is a lien.

Jeff Leeds says installing SolarCity’s panels on the roof of his home in the Northern California city of El Granada was the sorriest day of his life.

Agreeing to the company’s 20-year lease was like partnering with the devil, he claims. He says he has endured skyrocketing electric bills, installation of an inferior system and contract violations because SolarCity refuses to clean the panels or to provide a payment for his system’s poor performance.

The latest surprise: a notice from his bank telling him that SolarCity had placed a lien on his home, and that his equity line of credit application could not proceed until the lien was removed.

“I was totally surprised by this and very pissed off,” Leeds said. “When I talked to the bank they told me it was a lien. I had to pay the bank a $48 fee for removal. They held me up from closing my loan to buy a vacation home so I had to borrow from another account. It cost me time in calls to both Wells Fargo and to SolarCity.”

SolarCity say it’s not a lien, but a “fixture filing” that stakes the company’s claim to the panels, which it owns if consumers have taken part in its popular lease program. Owning the solar electricity-generating system allows SolarCity to claim lucrative state and federal subsidies available only to system owners. SolarCity has received approximately $500 million in tax subsidies and grants over the years.

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