What Are Right To Charge Laws?
Updated: Apr 5
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 charging challenges. Also, many of these multi-unit properties are located in planned communities with rules limiting how residents use their properties.
Often, such housing presents specific challenges for installing chargers 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 owners get charging at their apartment or condo complex.
Right To Charge: A Definition
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 charger 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 attempt to address some potentially complex issues. Who pays for the charging station and electricity? Where will the EV charger be installed? Will it impact available parking spots (either deeded or otherwise)?
Some laws may require using a licensed contractor such as an electrician or complying with certain architectural or safety standards. They may establish that the charging equipment belongs to the unit owner or tenant or create an implied easement across common elements to install the charging equipment.
Although most states do not have such laws, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii and Oregon do. The 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 board 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 right to charge 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.
The 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.
Assisting Tenants And Homeowners In Requesting EV Charging Infrastructure In Their Communities
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 or planned community. This usually involves approaching the board, apartment owner, or management company and submitting a written request.
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 an association meeting.
Also, it’s important to consider how the EV driver will pay for the electricity, charging equipment, and installation. Many chargers have a readout or a tracking system that makes it easy to calculate electricity consumption from EV charging.
Creating a payment system for the electricity may make the EV charger installation seem more plausible to decision makers. It is also possible to remove EV chargers, 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 also 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.
Help Your Clients Gain Reliable Access To At-Home Charging
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.
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