EV Charging In Condos: Balancing Convenience With Compliance
By Christopher Carter - Real Estate Broker Associate
September 19, 2023
Recently, I wrote about the basics of installing an Electric Vehicle charging outlet in the garage of a Single-Family house. Today we are doing an overview of Florida Condominium Owners Associations (COA’s) allowing unit owners to install a dedicated charging outlet at their individual parking spaces, and/or the Association installing a shared charging station on the property for all owners to use.
As mentioned in my recent article, EV charging in Florida condo buildings and communities is much more involved than having a charging outlet installed in your own garage. Since 2018, Florida's Condominium Act (FS Chapter 718) has addressed EV charging considerations for COA’s, adding another couple levels of regulation to the installation of charging outlets and stations on Association property.
We will be building on the basics presented in my recent article, so it may be good to re-familiarize yourself with Level 1 (120-volt), Level 2 (240-volt), and Level 3 (DC Fast Charging). Here is the link: EV Charging - An Overview Of Residential Installations: www.thefloridarealestateblog.com
Due to the differences in how COA’s and HOA’s function and are regulated in Florida, this discussion only applies to Condominium properties and Associations, not HOA-Governed communities.
There are 2 ways for Condominium Boards to address requests for Electric Vehicle charging on Association Property:
• An electrical service outlet at an individual owner's deeded or assigned parking space in the building's garage, carport, or open parking area
• A freestanding charging station installed in a shared, paved area for the use of all owners
Florida Statute 718.113(8) is already in place to address individual owners wanting to install electrical service for EV charging at their assigned parking spaces. Here is a link: Chapter 718 Section 113 - 2022 Florida Statutes - The Florida Senate: www.flsenate.gov
The main points include:
• An Association cannot prohibit owners from installing EV charging outlets at their assigned parking spaces
• Installation cannot cause irreparable damage to any common element/area
• Electrical service to the individual outlet must be separately metered for that owner to pay for electricity used
• The unit owner must pay ALL installation, operation, maintenance, repair, and future removal costs
• Installation must comply with all Federal, State, and local regulations and permitting requirements
The Association can require an individual owner to:
• Comply with any building or property architectural and appearance standards
• Use a licensed contractor who is familiar with (and capable of) installing EV charging stations
• Provide a Certificate of Insurance naming the Association as an additional insured party
• Reimburse the Association for any increase in the property's insurance premium which is directly attributable to EV charging station installation and use
For interpretation and application to specific circumstances, you must speak with a Florida-licensed attorney.
For individual parking space installations, the primary consideration is where to tap into the Association's existing electrical service. EV experts universally support individual EV outlets on dedicated separate circuits and breakers from a main service panel so as not to overload an existing circuit. This applies to outlets for either Level 1 (120 volt) or Level 2 (240 volt) charging. Be aware that running power from a property's common panel all the way to an individual parking space can be very expensive.
Safety considerations, code requirements, and Association approval will depend on whether assigned individual owner parking is open-air, light duty carport, masonry constructed carport with structural roof, the building's garage, or separate individual garage.
If you are an EV driver and Florida Condo Owner who would like to install a charging outlet at your assigned parking space, start by contacting your Board of Directors to ask them how to proceed. They will likely have you go through the Management Office for permit and installation details, though always start with the Board.
There we are - a quick introduction to the basics of Condo Owners installing EV charging outlets at their own assigned parking spaces. FS Chapter 718 gives them the right to do it, though there are multiple regulatory, administrative, and safety considerations that must be met.
When a Condominium Association decides to install a charging station for the shared benefit and use of all owners, things work a bit differently. To start, an onsite charging station becomes another common element with undivided ownership by all Association members (unit owners). In this case, COA money will be used to purchase the equipment and pay for installation, maintenance, repairs, and future upgrades of the Association-owned EV charging station.
The Condominium Act already states that installing a charging station on COA common property "...does not constitute a material alteration or substantial addition to the common elements or association property." Attorneys tell us this means an owner vote is not required before Board approval and onsite installation of a charging station. However, a shared charging station for the use of all owners cannot be paid for with accumulated Reserve funds. The money must come from an Operating or Contingency Account, Special Assessment to all owners, or bank loan.
It is important to note that it doesn't make much sense to install a Level 1 (120-volt) station for shared use by multiple owners. Level 2 (240-volt) charging which provides faster charge rates and can have 2 simultaneous users is definitely preferred and recommended. Level 3 charging on Residential Condominium property is probably far too expensive to be a reasonable option since it is mostly used in commercial and for-profit locations.
The decision on whether to have EV owners install charging outlets at their own parking spaces, or for the Association to install a shared higher-capacity charging station for the use of all owners is one that involves quite a few "moving parts" and requires well-informed evaluation before proceeding.
Here are some questions and discussion points for Boards and Associations to consider when thinking about a charging station on the property:
• How many current owners are EV drivers?
• How many future owners might be EV drivers?
• Where will the COA's shared charging station be located? Will some guest parking be changed to charging-only spaces?
• Will guests and visitors be allowed to use it?
• How will the Association pay for the purchase and installation? (In Florida, Reserve funds cannot be used to pay for a new amenity like a charging station)
• Ongoing maintenance will be a budgeted cost to all owners. A service contract with the charging station manufacturer is the best way to handle maintenance and repairs.
• Can the Association's not-for-profit corporation make any money from user fees?
• What is the best way for individual owners to pay for the electricity used per charge? "Smart" charging stations with cell phone App, credit card links, and login access are advised. Billing through a unit owner's Association Assessment (dues, fees) payment account is definitely NOT recommended.
• If the COA installs a shared charging station for all owners, will individual charging outlets at owners' parking spaces also be allowed?
EV charging capacity is an increasingly sought-after amenity by Florida condo buyers. In time, it is possible that having onsite charging capability will become a "must have" feature for any buying decision.
Though as mentioned above, the initial installation involves many layers of approval - Board Administration, County or City permitting, safety considerations, and location planning.
Florida Condominium Boards should already be addressing EV charging capability and capacity in their parking garages, lots, and paved common areas. Good business practice suggests that they gather as much information as possible prior to making a decision and starting installation. Boards need to ask questions and receive input from the property manager (or Management Company), individual owners, charging station manufacturers, local licensed electrical contractors, and City or County permitting departments.
Editor's Note: Christopher Carter is NOT an attorney. He does not give legal advice. For interpretation and application to specific circumstances of anything you read in this article, you must speak with a Florida-Licensed attorney.