Condominium Associations

Owners of electric vehicles in condos can now charge up at assigned parking space

The Florida Legislature looked favorably upon electric vehicle owners this session when it approved House Bill 841; a community association law affecting many aspects of community living including detailed new provisions to accommodate electric cars.

A preamble to the new law says: “The Legislature finds that the use of electric vehicles conserves and protects the state’s environmental resources, provides significant economic savings to drivers, and serves an important public interest. The participation of condominium associations is essential to the state’s efforts to conserve and protect the state’s environmental resources and provide economic savings to drivers. Therefore, the installation of an electric charging station shall be governed as follows:

The new law then lists five provisions or conditions concerning electric vehicle charging stations as follows:

1. A condominium declaration, restrictive covenants or the board of directors may not prohibit any unit owner from installing an electric vehicle charging station within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking area.
2. The installation cannot cause irreparable damage to the condominium property.
3. The electricity for the charging station must be separately metered and the unit owner must pay for the electricity.
4. The unit owner installing the charging station is responsible for the costs of installation, operation, maintenance, repair and insurance of the station. The association can collect these costs the same as collecting assessments.
5. If the unit owner, or unit owner successor decides there is no longer a need for the electronic vehicle charging station, they must pay for the cost of removing the station. The association can collect the costs of removal the same as collecting assessments.

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, and 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. 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.
We know that many condominium associations have considered installing communal charging stations on the common elements so that those with electric cars can share a station and the cost of installation and the electric usage. This appeared to be a good idea to minimize the amount of rewiring and electric lines that would need to be installed on the common elements.
However, it appears now that even if you allowed or installed the communal stations, any owner with an assigned parking space now has the right to pay for the installation of a personal charging station at his parking space along with the requisite electric lines, breakers and meters necessary to do so. This could cause a lot of ongoing upheaval and disruption if many owners opt to install at various time charging stations at their individual parking spaces.

It will probably be pretty expensive to set up individual stations at each parking space, so many electric car owners can probably be persuaded to join in the cost of installing joint stations which would minimize the overall number of them. A board though could not force every electric car owner into using a joint charging station and if one or more owners really want to pay a lot more for their personal station, it looks like you cannot stop them now.

This appears to be another new example of government using its powers to promote the nudging of people out of conventional gasoline powered vehicles and into electric cars.
Rob Samouce, a principal attorney in the Naples law firm of Samouce & Gal, P.A., concentrates his practice in the areas of community associations including condominium, cooperative and homeowners’ associations, real estate transactions, closings and related mortgage law, general business law, estate planning, construction defect litigation and general civil litigation. This column is not based on specific legal advice to anyone and is based on principles subject to change from time to time. Those persons interested in specific legal advice on topics discussed in this column should consult competent legal counsel.