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An Introduction to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Condominiums

electriccarwithatlantaAre associations required to provide electric vehicle charging stations?

No.  There is no law in Georgia which requires condominium associations to provide public electric vehicle charging stations.  However, associations may wish to provide common charging stations as an amenity.

Must associations allow owners to install electric vehicle charging stations?

No.  Georgia law does not currently require condominium associations to permit the installation of private electric vehicle charging stations.  However, the law may soon change.  With the increase in electric vehicle ownership, the law is evolving as states address the new technology.  For example, California recently enacted a law which makes any language in governing documents that effectively prohibits or restricts the installation or use of electric vehicle charging stations void and unenforceable. However, California associations can still impose reasonable restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost or performance of the charging stations.

Are owners required to obtain approval from the association to install private electric vehicle charging stations?

Yes.  The installation of a private electric vehicle charging station in a limited common element or assigned common element parking space is considered an exterior modification to the condominium and must be approved by the association in accordance with its architectural review process.

Who is responsible for equipment and installation costs?

It depends.  If the charging station is being provided as a common amenity, the association will be responsible for the equipment and installation costs.  However, third-party vendors (commonly known as electric vehicle service providers) may fund the out-of-pocket costs as an incentive.  If the vendor is providing and installing the equipment, the association should have a formal written service agreement drafted or reviewed by its legal counsel.  If the charging station is being installed on a limited common element or assigned common element parking space for private use, the costs should be born solely by the benefited owner.

Who pays for the electricity?

Electricity will typically be paid for by the user.  The practicality will depend on whether electric usage is measured by a master meter or separate meter for each unit.  If there are separate meters, the charging station can be added to the owner’s existing electricity service meter.  However, if the charging station is connected to the condominium’s common meter, the association should select a system to account for payment and usage.  For example, the association can use smart technology to assess users for actual usage or assess users a flat monthly fee for estimated usage.   If a flat monthly fee is assessed, the association should reserve the right to adjust the fee to cover increased costs of power as well as maintenance, repair and replacement costs.  In some cases, a third-party vendor may reimburse the association for electricity consumption and bills the user directly for a charging session.

How do associations manage common charging stations?

If the charging station is a common amenity, the association can adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the use of the station, including duration and frequency limits.  For example, if there is high demand for the station, the association can limit use to one charging session per day for a maximum of two hours.  The rules and regulations should be included in written terms of use signed by the owner.  The rules and regulations can be enforced by the association in accordance with the enforcement powers in its governing documents, such as the imposition of fines, suspension of privileges and the towing of vehicles after satisfying certain due process requirements.  The association’s legal counsel should assist the board of directors with drafting the terms of use and to confirm the sanctions for use violations.

How can associations protect against liability?

With respect to private charging stations, associations should require users to sign a written agreement indemnifying and holding harmless the association and its members, directors, officers and agents from liability from claims related to the installation, operation and use of the charging stations.  With respect to common charging stations, associations should require users to sign a written agreement holding harmless the association and its members, directors, officers and agents from liability.  The association’s legal counsel should draft the appropriate indemnification and/or hold harmless agreement.  Associations should also discuss the installation of charging stations with their insurance carriers to confirm that the appropriate insurance coverage is in place, and whether it is necessary for the owner to maintain an umbrella liability insurance policy.

Who is responsible for maintaining the charging station?

If the charging station is a common amenity, then the association will generally be responsible for its maintenance, repair and replacement.  However, if the charging station is installed by a third party vendor, the service agreement between the association and the vendor should clearly set forth the maintenance, repair and replacement responsibilities.  The service agreement should also state which party is responsible for the damage or destruction of the charging station, and give the association a right to require the removal of the equipment under certain circumstances.  If the charging station is for private use, the association should adopt a policy clearly outlining the owner’s responsibility to maintain, repair and replace the equipment.  The policy should also require periodic inspection of the charging station by experienced professionals, including qualified electricians.

Tags: association, condominium, electric car, Electric charging station, Georgia

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