The pros and cons of charging stations in condos
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
With the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, condominium corporations need to be prepared for more charging station requests, says Toronto condominium lawyer Joel Berkovitz.
But there are many issues for corporations to consider before making such a decision, says Berkovitz, a lawyer with Shibley Righton LLP.
“It is more complicated than it appears at first blush,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Under the Ontario Condominium Act, unit owners need the approval of the condo corporation before they make any changes to a "common element," Berkovitz says.
As defined under the Act, a common element is what the corporation manages and its ownership is shared by all owners They are the parts of a condominium property that are outside the boundaries of the individual units, he says.
According to a recent CBC report, condo corporations often deny requests for plug-in stations.
“It’s not that a condo doesn’t want them,” says Berkovitz. “It’s hard to accommodate charging stations.”
Some of the issues for corporations include figuring out how to get electricity from the mechanical room to the parking area, which might not be on the same floor. That’s where much of the concern lies, he says.
“There could also be an electrical supply issue. In some buildings, the supply is not as strong and they don’t have enough output for these chargers.”
Berkovitz says some corporations might be able to accommodate one or two charging stations on their current electrical panel, but if there are more owners who want to run e-cars, they might need to upgrade their panel.
“This would be a significant cost,” he notes.
Condo boards will also have to figure out who pays for the electricity and who monitors its use, he says.
“If they install a submeter, you have to have someone come in and read the meter to determine which costs are charged to which owner. You can see this quickly becomes more complicated and there are more costs associated with it.”
Berkovitz says if a plug-in station can be accommodated, the unit owner would be responsible for insurance, electrical costs, maintenance and repair.
He says with all of this to consider, it’s not an easy decision for condo corporations to make.
“They’re a little hesitant to approve. Some boards are concerned if they say yes to one owner, they have to say yes to every owner.”
But agreements can be reached and Berkovitz says his firm has drawn up such documents on behalf of corporations.
With the province hoping e-cars will account for five per cent of new vehicle sales by 2020 as part of its Climate Change Action Plan, Berkovitz says the government may find a way to make plug-in stations more appealing.
“I can see the province encouraging condo corporations to accommodate residents, perhaps through offering financial incentives,” he says.
“It’s also a good idea for developers to build with this in mind. It’s far easier to build it in the first place than to retrofit it after. It could be a selling feature for new builders.”
With new condo sales hitting a record level in Toronto, the Toronto Star reports, it’s going to be an issue more boards and drivers will have to address, Berkovitz says.
“I’m sure we’re going to see significantly more condos being built where these requirements will be considered.”
There are also changes coming to the Condominium Act on Nov. 1, but Berkovitz says they won’t necessarily address the issue of charging stations.
However, communication between residents and boards will likely be improved, which could ultimately help when it comes to discussions about the stations, he says.
“There are going to be many more notices required of condo corporations and they’ll be expected to be more proactive in informing residents of what’s going on and how to reach them,” says Berkovitz.