Condominium Associations

Electric cars are coming to your condominium; who will pay to charge them up?

While electric vehicles have more or less been a novelty over recent years, many indicators are concluding that they will proliferate in much greater numbers in the near future.

If the indicators are correct, that means you or your neighbors will probably have one or more of these cars parking at your condominium soon. The question arise who is going to pay to charge up the electric cars? Everybody has to pay for their own gasoline. However, a person with an electric car could just plug it into an outlet on the common elements and then all the owners will be paying to charge up that owner’s car. This does not sound very equitable.

To prevent such inequity, last year the Florida Legislature approved a new change to the statutes to say that if a condominium association has assigned limited common element parking spaces, an association’s documents or its Board of Directors may not prohibit a unit owner from installing an electric vehicle charging station for an electric vehicle within the boundaries of his or her limited common element parking area.

The new law goes on to say that the charging station installation may not cause irreparable damage to the condominium property, the electricity must be separately metered and payable by the unit owner installing the station. The unit owner is responsible for the costs of installation, operation, maintenance, repair and insurance of the station, and the owner is responsible for the costs of removing the station if it becomes no longer needed.

The Association can require the unit owner to comply with safety requirements and building codes, comply with reasonable architectural standards, engage the services of a licensed and registered and electric charging station knowledgeable electrical contractor or engineer, provide a certificate of insurance naming the association as an additional insured within 14 days of approval of the station, reimburse the association for the actual cost of any increased insurance premium amount attributable to the charging station within 14 days of receiving the Association’s insurance premium invoice.

The Association provides an implied easement across the common elements to the unit owner for the purpose of installing the station and furnishing electrical power and any necessary equipment to the station.

Last, the new law provides that labor and material furnished for the installation of the station cannot be the basis for filing a lien against the Association but a lien can be filed against the owner.

As you can surmise, it could be very costly for an owner to install such an individual charging station at his limited common element parking space. What if the station cannot fit in the assigned parking space? What about condominiums where there are no assigned limited common element parking spaces?

Because of the expensive cost of installing a charging stations and issues with location of installation, some Associations are looking to allow a group of owners who have, or may want to acquire electric vehicles, to install a communal charging station on the common elements so that the group can share in the cost of installation, electricity, maintenance and insurance. In order to do so however in some associations a material alteration approval vote of all the owners will be required while in others the board can grant the group the approval to install.

Sooner or later, your condominium association will have to deal with electric cars. Your board may want to consider proactively looking at installing shared charging stations to accommodate your owners. A plan might start with one (1) station with the idea of adding more once more and more electric cars arrive on site.

Rob Samouce is a principal attorney in the Naples law firm of Samouce & Gal, P.A. He is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development and concentrates his practice representing condominium, cooperative and homeowners associations in all their legal needs including the procedural governance of their associations, covenant enforcement, assessment collections, contract negotiations and contract litigation, real estate transactions, general business law, construction defect litigation and other general civil litigation matters. This column is not based on specific legal advice to anyone and is based on principles subject to change from time to time.