Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Community Associations – It’s Time to Plan Now
March 15th, 2021 | Community Association Law Blog
By Mary Wynn Seiter, Esq.
Electric vehicles are no longer the occasional curiosity on the road – Volts, Leafs, Teslas and many others are increasingly prominent. There are electric Mustangs, BMWs, and even Hummers! Auto manufacturers have already announced plans for their entire fleets to be electric vehicles in the future – and many rest areas on highways and interstates already have electric vehicle charging stations (EVCSs) installed for public use. Has your association received an owner request for permission to install an EVCS? How should you plan for these requests, which are definitely coming as electric vehicle sales become a greater percentage of all auto sales?
Last fall, new legislation was signed into law which established requirements for community associations in New Jersey relative to EVCSs. These legal standards, more fully discussed by our partner Eric Frizzell in his posting of January 23, 2021, prohibit community associations from unreasonably restricting or prohibiting the installation of EVCSs in designated parking spaces for owners. But what does that mean for your association – and what should your board do now?
Boards should evaluate the most efficient protocol for installation of EVCSs in their community, and should adopt a policy that governs an owner’s request to install one and the board’s consideration and granting of such requests. The protocol will depend upon the physical layout of your community, and can be accomplished with the assistance of an engineer and your attorney – and can be developed in advance of any owner request, or based on the first request your board receives. How can the electricity be routed to the owner’s designated parking space? Will you require a submeter to be installed if the electrical line is run off a common element line? How large can the station be, and what requirements do you want to implement to protect others from impacts?
In terms of a policy, we recommend that boards treat EVCS installation requests in much the same way a unit alteration request should be treated. The association should have a standard application for the request, which requires the owner to submit the installation plans and specifications as well as a deposit of funds to cover the costs of any evaluation (by engineers or legal counsel) needed in order to judge the acceptability of the request. The board should then evaluate the request and, once approved, have the owner enter into an alteration agreement; this agreement should set forth not only the terms and conditions associated with the installation of the EVCS but also the owner’s ongoing responsibilities, required insurance, and broad waiver of liability and indemnification of the association and board relating to the EVCS. The association should also require a recordable covenant that places future owners of the unit on notice of these obligations relative to the EVCS.
Having a well-thought-out protocol in place for EVCSs will facilitate a board’s even-handed and consistent application of its EVCS policy, which is important both for fairness as well as compliance with NJ law. Let our law firm know if you would like assistance in establishing such a protocol and policy.