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Right To Charge Laws In California and Beyond

Updated: Mar 26

California right to charge laws

Zero-emission vehicles have skyrocketed in popularity recently. However, for electric vehicles (EVs) to be attractive and practical to a large percentage of the population, it is critical that drivers can easily charge their vehicles. In fact, convenient EV charging solutions are essential for widespread EV adoption. But many Americans live in apartments or condos, and this type of real estate presents EV charging challenges. Also, many of these multi-unit properties are located in planned communities with rules limiting how residents use their properties. Therefore, right-to-charge laws in California and elsewhere were created.

Often, such housing presents specific challenges for installing EV charging stations that vary depending on the parking area and layout, building design, and ownership model. So, how can residents of multi-unit dwellings and planned communities install home EV chargers? How can EV professionals help clients navigate the approval process? We’ll discuss how right-to-charge laws can help EV drivers with charging at their apartment or condo complex.

Definition of Right To Charge Laws

Right-to-charge laws were created to help ensure the ability to charge a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (HPEV) or battery electric vehicle (BEV) despite living in a multi-unit building or planned community. They help make it possible for someone to install an EV charging station for individual use, although there will be some reasonable restrictions. These conditions may include paying for the necessary electrical infrastructure or upgrades, associated charging costs, and maintaining coverage on an insurance policy.

Right-to-charge laws in California and elsewhere attempt to address some potentially complex issues. Who pays for the EV charging station and electricity? Where will the EV charger be installed? Will it impact available parking spots, both deeded or otherwise)?

Right-To-Charge Law Requirements

Some laws may require using a licensed contractor, such as an electrician, or complying with certain architectural or safety standards. Right-to-charge laws may establish that the EV charging station equipment belongs to the unit owner or tenant or create an implied easement across common elements to install the charging equipment.

States With Right-To-Charge Laws

Although most states do not have such them, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia do. These EV charging laws are written differently in each state, so they have a different impact on potential clients. Basically, they make it harder for a homeowners association (HOA) or condominium association to stop someone from installing and using a home EV charging station.

However, the owner or renter may need to meet conditions, such as adhering to certain architectural standards or paying the cost of installing the equipment. Some laws may even encourage installing charging equipment as an amenity for residents and guests or specify who pays attorney’s fees if actions are needed to enforce compliance.

Although right to charge laws aren’t necessarily well known or understood, it’s essential for aspiring EV drivers who live in multi-unit buildings and planned communities to be aware of if applicable to their situation. Likewise, people on HOA, condo boards, and even landlords need to be aware to abide by the laws.

California Right To Charge Law

California has some innovative laws promoting clean energy adoption, including a California EV charging law, the California Solar Rights Act, and a solar mandate for new construction. In California, the right-to-charge law is a civil code that applies to both owner-occupied and renter-occupied units in condos, co-ops, and planned communities.

This California law allows an EV charger to be installed “within an owner’s unit or in a designated parking space” or “at a parking space allocated for the lessee.” This may also include a common area or a location specifically designated for use by a particular owner. However, they may also locate a charging station in a common area of the property if installation in the owner’s designated parking spot is unreasonably expensive or impossible.

What States Have Right To Charge Laws?

California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Virginia have passed right-to-charge laws aiming to streamline the installation of residential community EV charging stations. Also, Illinois recently passed a right-to-charge law specific to new houses or multiunit buildings.

Right-to-charge regulations also exist in some U.S. cities such as Seattle and Washington, D.C. Primarily applicable to owner-occupied buildings, some, like California's and Colorado's laws, also extend to renters.

Requesting EV Charging Stations In Multi-unit Housing

Even in states without right-to-charge laws, it might still be possible to get approval for installing an electric car charger in a multi-family building, condo, or HOA. This usually involves submitting a written request to the board, apartment owner, or management company.

It’s helpful to consider where the EV charging station would be located and where someone could park while using it. Also, the charger should be mounted on something, such as a wall or post. Ideally, it is located in an area that is convenient for parking. Depending on the layout of the property, it can be tricky from a wiring perspective. EV professionals can assist their clients in determining some of these important factors or even speaking at a condominium association or HOA meeting.

Also, it’s important to consider how the EV driver will pay for the electricity, charging equipment, and charger installation. Many electric car chargers have a readout or a tracking system that makes it easy to calculate electricity consumption from EV charging.

Creating a payment system for electricity may make the installation of EV chargers seem more plausible to decision-makers. EV charging stations can also be removed, so renters or owners may be able to take the equipment with them if they move away.

It could be helpful to determine if other residents are interested in charging their vehicles with the same charger. In some multi-unit buildings, EV chargers are shared among more than one household, but this can complicate things if two or more households want to use the charger simultaneously or if a vehicle is done charging but is occupying the spot needed for charging.

What Other Laws Impact EV Charging For Multi-Unit Housing?

HOAs have a legal document called Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that describe the requirements and limitations of the property. Likewise, condominiums have declarations and bylaws that dictate the use, rules, and maintenance of the property. These legal governing documents may have information relevant to the installation and use of EV charging stations. There may also be applicable EV laws in a given state or town.

FAQs About How to Charge EVs in Condos, HOAs, and Apartment Buildings

Many condo and apartment dwellers encounter issues with charging electric cars.

How can someone charge an electric car in a condo?

To charge an electric car in a condo, check and obtain approval from the condo association, select a suitable location, and confirm electrical capacity with a licensed electrician. Choose an appropriate charging solution, obtain the required permits, and have the charger installed. Provide documentation to the association, schedule inspections, and, upon approval, manage charging efficiently to accommodate residents sharing the infrastructure.

Do HOAs have electric car charging policies?

Many HOAs have electric car charging policies in place. These policies outline guidelines and regulations regarding the installation and use of EV chargers within the community. They may address aspects such as approval processes, location restrictions, aesthetics, and any associated fees. Residents should review their HOA's specific policies and seek approval before installing an EV charger.

How does the California right-to-charge law impact property owners?

The law requires property owners to permit the installation of EV charging stations, provided certain conditions are met. Property owners can only impose reasonable restrictions and may request removal if specific criteria, such as safety concerns, are not met. This law encourages the adoption of electric vehicles and supports California's commitment to sustainable transportation.

How do I install a Tesla charger in a condo?

To install a Tesla charger in a condo, review and comply with condo rules, secure association approval, and select a suitable location. Confirm electrical capacity with a licensed electrician, choose a Tesla charger, and obtain necessary permits. Hire an electrician for installation, submit required documentation to the condo association, pass inspections, and obtain final approval for a seamless Tesla charger installation.

Helping Clients Install EV Chargers in Condos & HOAs

As more and more households want to install EV chargers, residents of multi-unit buildings and planned communities will be figuring out how to navigate the process. Knowing the EV laws in your area and how to navigate HOAs and condo boards will be critical for moving EV charger installation projects forward.

Navigating the EV charging station design and engineering process can be tricky. GreenLancer is an online marketplace where you can shop for vendors who can fulfill your needs in record time. That means more time back to you and standardized solutions to accelerate your EV charging station installations. You can sign up for free and shop for services that fit your needs or complete the form below.


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