Beginning January 1, 2012, any restriction which prohibits or restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle ("EV") charging station in a common interest development is void and unenforceable. (Civ. Code § 4745(a).)
Owner Requirements. If an owner wants to install an EV charging station in a common area or an exclusive use common area (his parking space), he must meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities as well as all other applicable zoning, land use or other ordinances, or land use permits. (Civ. Code § 4745(c).) In addition, he must obtain HOA approval and agree in writing to the following (Civ. Code § 4745(f)(1)):
- Architectural Standards. Comply with the association's architectural standards.
- Licensed Contractor. Use a licensed contractor to install the station.
- Insurance. Within 14 days of approval, provide a certificate of insurance that names the common interest development as an additional insured under the homeowner's insurance policy.
- Installation Costs. Pay for the cost of installing the charging station.
- Utility Costs. Pay for electricity usage associated with the station.
Duties & Liability. The owner and each successive owner of the EV charging station is responsible for all of the following (Civ. Code § 4745(f)(2)):
- Damage. Damage to the station, common areas, exclusive common areas, or adjacent units resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the station.
- Maintenance. Maintenance, removal, repair, and replacement of the electric vehicle charging station until it has been removed from the common area or exclusive use common area.
- Electricity. Electricity associated with the station.
- Disclosure. Disclosing the EV charging station to buyers and the related responsibilities of the homeowner.
- Insurance. Maintain a liability coverage policy. (Civ. Code § 4745(f)(3).)
HOA Deadline to Respond. If approval is required for the installation or use of an EV charging station, the application must be processed and approved in the same manner as any other architectural application and not willfully avoided or delayed. Approval or denial of the application must be in writing. If an application is not denied in writing within 60 days from receipt of the application, the application shall be deemed approved, unless that delay is the result of a reasonable request for additional information. (Civ. Code § 4745(e).)
Reasonable Restrictions. Associations may impose reasonable restrictions on EV charging stations provided those restrictions do not significantly increase the cost of the station or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance. (Civ. Code § 4745(b)(2).)
Unreasonable Expense. Boards can grant exclusive use of common areas to members who run utility lines and install meters in the common areas for charging stations. (Civ. Code § 4600(b)(3)(H).) All costs associated with the installation are at the requesting owner’s expense. If installation of a charging station is impossible or unreasonably expensive, an owner can install it in the common area. Doing so requires a license agreement between the owner and the association. (Civ. Code § 4745(g).)
Recommendation: Neither the Davis-Stirlihg Act nor case law offers a guide for determining what is “unreasonably expensive.” A starting point would be to compare the proposed installation cost with the installation cost if located at a different feasible location within the development. Giving an EV owner a parking space closer to an existing electric panel may benefit the member, but at what cost to future EV owners? Also, most electrical panels in common areas do not provide sufficient power for EV charging, so upgrades are necessary to support charging stations. Rather than responding ad hoc to members’ requests to install charging stations, association’s should develop a comprehensive plan for electrical upgrades to allow owners to install charging stations in their parking spaces.
"Public" Stations. The revised statute gives associations and owners authority to install a charging station in the common area for the use of all members. It gives authority to associations to develop rules for the use of "public" charging stations and allows associations to create new parking spaces where none previously existed to facilitate their installation. (Civ. Code § 4745(h).)
Common Area Private Stations. Owners may install "private" charging stations in the common areas but only if installing it in an owner's exclusive use common area is impossible or unreasonably expensive. (Civ. Code § 4745(g).)
New Parking Space. An association may create a new parking space where one did not previously exist to facilitate the installation of an electric vehicle charging station. (Civ. Code § 4745(i).)
Recommendation: Whenever an owner installs an EV Charging Station, a maintenance covenant signed by the owner should be recorded putting future owner on notice of their obligation to maintain the charging station and carry proper insurance. This is important since future owners might not have an electric vehicle. It also satisfies the requirements found in Civil Code § 4745(f)(2)(D) to disclose to prospective buyers the existence of the charging station and the related responsibilities of the owner.
Additional Resources. For additional information, see the Center for Sustainable Energy.
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