Electric Cars and Charging Stations in Condominiums

Electric cars, and charging stations, are a hot topic this week!  Britain has announced the eventual ban of gas and diesel powered vehicles, and an Ottawa condo is making national news  (click on the video entitled:  Ottawa Woman’s Power Struggle to Charge Electric Car at Condo Building) about whether or not an owner can, or should be, entitled to charge an electric car. 

In light of all the commentary, we wanted to chime in with our thoughts!

There is no easy, or one size fits all, solution to the question of whether or not an owner, or multiple owners, or all owners, can, or are able, to charge electric cars on the condominium property. 

As was recently stated by one of our lawyers during an interview,  (click on the above-stated video), the collective should work together to find out what is possible, and makes sense, in any given situation – always bearing in mind the applicability of the governing documents in any given case. In another interview, one of our lawyers also explained that many condo boards never imagined having to accommodate electric vehicles, and that infrastructure may be a physical barrier to this type of arrangement.

In some condominiums, the existing infrastructure will not support individual, or multiple, charging stations.  In most of these cases, in order to change the existing infrastructure, a vote of at least 66 2/3% of all owners may be required.  In such cases, until the vote occurs and the infrastructure is updated to accommodate the actual or potential use, individuals will simply be unable to charge their electric cars.

In other condominiums, even if the infrastructure can support the use, where it is a common expense, it may be necessary to install individual metering to ensure that all owners are not paying for the cost of those individuals wishing to charge their electric cars on site.

In many cases, a condominium’s governing documents would simply not have contemplated the advent of electric vehicles.  As a result, in both of these examples, the condominium’s governing documents (the Declaration, By-Laws or Rules) may also need to be amended to reflect this new use of the common elements and/or common services.

In some more recently built condominiums, the issue is moot.  In these condominiums, this type of use has been anticipated, and either individual or shared charging stations have been integrated into the build.  In these situations, we generally see that the use is also regulated and addressed in the governing documents.

The bottom line is that each particular case needs to be carefully reviewed and considered, both from a practical (i.e. infrastructure) and legal (i.e. governing documents) perspective. 

We have worked with many condominium corporations faced with these difficult issues, and have found, in all cases, that there is a desire to investigate and explore the options available to address the interests and needs of all in the community.  However, even if the desire exists at the Board and Management level, the implementation of any particular proposed solution will often go beyond the jurisdiction and authority of the Board and Management, and may require the involvement of all owners.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about current and important issues faced by condominium corporations.