EV Charging for Condominium Owners

Condominium Owners: You Have the Right to Install an EV Charging Station Where You Live!

When it comes to installing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in condominium complexes, California law is clear–and it’s clearly on the condo owner’s side. That’s great news for you and the many (and growing!) number of Californians who have chosen to go green with electric vehicles.

First, you need to know your rights as a condo owner when it comes to installing an EV charging station. Then, play nice. Approach the Homeowner’s Association board in a way that gives you the best shot of getting what you are entitled to by California law.* (You catch more bees with honey…) That being said, the law gives you rights.

Plainly stated, California homeowners’ associations are not permitted to prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of electric vehicle charging stations.

OK, so HOAs are not allowed to prohibit condo owners from installing EV charging stations. True! However, they can put restrictions on installing EV charging stations. And, since HOA boards are notorious for their restrictions, you, as the condo owner, may have to fight for your legal rights!

“Reasonable Restrictions” Permitted

Do you have a designated parking space? If you do, California law states you may install an EV charging station by your personal spot. However, if all parking spaces are open to all residents, your HOA board may push back about where you can install your EV charging station. 

Civil Code Section 4745 permits “reasonable restrictions” on the installation or use of an EV charging station. A “reasonable restriction” is defined as a restriction that does “not significantly increase the cost of the station or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance.” (Civ. Code § 4745(b)(2).)

If the HOA board decides to be difficult, it will wind up paying-literally-the price. When you put in your request to install your EV charging station, make it clear to the HOA board that if it refuses your request, the association will be slapped with damages up to $1,000 (Civil Code section 4745). Further, if you have to take them to court, the HOA will also be forced to pay your reasonable attorney’s fees. 

Steps to Get an EV Charging Station Installed at Your Condo

Much like you would approach your HOA if you wanted to make an architectural change to your unit, you will have to go through an approval process before installing an EV charging station. There is no specific process outlined by California law. Therefore, find out if your HOA has an application policy in place for requesting to install an EV charging station. If they do, follow it to the letter. Most likely, it involves writing a request letter to the HOA board. (If they don’t have a policy in place, start with a letter, as well.)

Once you submit the request to install an EV charging station, the law says your HOA is required to notify you, in writing, within 60 days, about approval or denial. One bump in the road, if the HOA board responds with questions within 60 days, the clock stops. At that point, you will want to answer questions fast and remind them about their responsibilities under the civil code.*

If the HOA doesn’t contact you with approval or questions within the 60-day period the law states your application is automatically approved. 

Common Areas – Exclusive Use… What Does it All Mean?

As an owner, you understand that when you own a condo, you actually own the inside of the home. You do not own the exterior “common” areas and this includes the parking lots or garages.  

If you have your own designated parking space (exclusively used only by you), the HOA has no choice but to agree to the installation of your EV charging station as long as you agree to the following guidelines.

  1. Comply with the association’s architectural guidelines
  2. Use a licensed contractor for installation
  3. Provide a certificate of insurance that names the association as also being insured under the owner’s insurance policy (this certificate of insurance is due within 14 days of approval)
  4. Pay for the electricity usage costs associated with the use of the EV charging station as well as the costs associated with the installation of the station

If the location of your assigned parking spot makes it impossible to install an EV charging station or makes it unreasonably expensive, the condo owner still has the upperhand! Under these circumstances, the HOA is required to “enter into a license agreement with the owner for the use of the space in a common area, and the owner shall comply with all” of the approval requirements we discussed above (Civ. Code § 4745(g).

If you do not have your own designated parking space and you park in any open space, you can still install an EV charging station. You just have to understand that you will be sharing the station.

Here’s what happens in this situation: 

  • The association may decide to install one or more EV charging stations in a common area for all EV owners’ use. 
  • You, the condo owner, can do the same; just realize that this will not be for your own exclusive use. Any condo owner with an EV could park in the space and charge up. 

In either of these cases, the HOA would own the charging station and have to develop their own terms of use for the EV charging station and how fees for electricity are collected.

So, here’s the BIG Question! Who Pays for the Electricity?

There are a few considerations. You don’t want to pay for other drivers’ electricity. The HOA doesn’t want to foot the bill for anyone’s EV charging. And, as noted above in the guidelines (No. 4), the EV owner(s) who want to use the EV charging station must agree to pay for the electricity they use.

If this seems confusing, read on.

ShinePay, a cashless app, is a great way to resolve any questions about who pays for EV charging. (In fact, you can diffuse the HOA’s concerns by suggesting ShinePay.)

Tell Me More about ShinePay!

When the EV charging station is installed, the cashless ShinePay system can be installed. If you already have an EV charging station installed, ShinePay can be added to simplify payment, as well!

The EV owner downloads the free ShinePay app onto a smartphone and sets up an account. The ShinePay account is linked to a credit card. When it’s time to charge your car, you open the app on your phone, scan the QR code on the ShinePay device on your EV charging station. Electricity flows and your credit card will be billed for the electricity you use.

This is a particularly good solution when the EV charging station will be used by multiple EV owners in non-reserved parking spots. It’s also great if it’s just for your use because you can assure the HOA board that there is a streamlined process for paying in place.

The HOA board (or their designated person) will have access to a dashboard on ShinePay where they will be able to check usage and easily move (your payment) money to pay the electric bill.

Look, it’s no secret that homeowners’ associations (HOAs) can be sticklers when it comes to rules and anything that involves change. You’ve probably heard, “That’s not the way we do things” or “This is the way we’ve always done it?” Sound familiar? Some say trying to battle your HOA is an uphill ride. And that may be true, but when it comes to your right to install an EV charging station for your personal use at your condo, the fight will be more than worth it! 

Relax! In this case, you have the law on your side as a condo owner. You’ve already stood up for the environment by going green with your EV. Now it’s time to stand up for your rights as a condo owner and get your EV charging station installed in a place that’s convenient for you. 

*Here’s the civil code (Civ. Code § 4745(a).):

“A covenant, restriction or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a common interest development, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an [EV] charging station within an owner’s unit or in a designated parking space, including, but not limited to, a deeded parking space, a parking space in an owner’s exclusive use common area, or a parking space that is specifically designated for use by a particular owner, or is in conflict with [Section 4745], is void and unenforceable.” (Civ. Code § 4745(a).)