While gasoline powered vehicles are still dominant on Florida’s roads, the ever-growing presence of electric vehicles cannot be ignored. The number of electric vehicles on our highways and streets continue to climb as they become more and more affordable. As consumers continue to embrace a greener lifestyle, Florida’s lawmakers have paved the way for condominium unit owners’ need to have access to electric vehicle charging stations. Effective July 1, 2018, new legislation, section 718.113(8) of the Florida Statutes, became effective which facilitates a unit owner’s ability to install and use an electric vehicle charging station within the unit owner’s limited common element parking space.
This new legislation prohibits the condominium association’s board of directors and a declaration of condominium provision or other restrictive covenants from prohibiting (or being enforced to prohibit) any unit owner from installing an electric vehicle charging station within the boundaries of the unit owner’s limited common element parking space, subject to certain conditions as laid out in this new legislation.
It is important to note that the right of installation of an electric vehicle charging station is ONLY applicable to the “limited common element” parking space and does not apply to a “common element” parking space. There is an important difference between a common element and a limited common element parking space. While all unit owners own an undivided interest in both, the limited common element parking space vests an individual use right to the owners of the unit to which the limited common element is appurtenant (connected to). Therefore, associations may prohibit the installation of electronic vehicle charging stations within the common elements or other portions of the condominium property that are maintained for the general use and benefit of all unit owners, but not as applied to a limited common element parking space, subject to the limitations and conditions of the legislation.
Thus, section 718.113(8) of the Florida Statutes, provides that, in considering a unit owner’s request to install an electric vehicle charging station, the association first must determine whether the charging station is to be installed within the boundaries of the requesting unit owner’s limited common element parking space. Whether a parking space is a limited common element is determined by the provisions of the declaration of condominium designating the parking space for the exclusive use and benefit of the owners of a specific unit.
If it is determined that the parking space is a limited common element, the unit owner may have the electric vehicle charging station installed subject to the requirements of the new legislation. These requirements provide that:
1) The installation cannot cause irreparable damage to the condominium property.
2) The unit owner is responsible for the costs of installation, operation, insurance, maintenance, repair, and removal of the charging station.
3) The electricity for the electric vehicle charging station must be separately metered and payable by the unit owner.
All of the above costs, if left unpaid by a unit owner, are enforceable by the association as any other assessment due pursuant to section 718.116, Florida Statutes, meaning if left unpaid their condominium unit can be foreclosed.
Additionally, as provided by the new legislation, the association can and should require that the unit owner:
1) comply with bona fide safety requirements, consistent with applicable building codes or recognized safety standards, for the protection of persons and property;
2) comply with reasonable architectural standards adopted by the association that govern the dimensions, placement, or external appearance of the electric vehicle charging station, provided that such standards may not prohibit the installation of such charging station or substantially increase the cost thereof;
3) engage the services of a licensed and registered electrical contractor or engineer familiar with the installation and core requirements of an electric vehicle charging station;
4) provide a certificate of insurance naming the association as an additional insured on the owner’s insurance policy for any claim related to the installation, maintenance, or use of the electric vehicle charging station within 14 days after receiving the association’s approval to install such charging station; and
5) reimburse the association for the actual cost of any increased insurance premium amount attributable to the electric vehicle charging station within 14 days after receiving the association’s insurance premium invoice.
Although your condominium association may not have received a request for the installation of an electric vehicle charging station as yet, your board of directors should be prepared for such a request. After all, it is only a matter of time. Therefore, condominium boards should consider adopting rules and regulations governing the process by which a unit owner is required to make such a request and provide for procedures by which the board of directors is to conduct its review and approval of the request.
While a unit owner desiring to install and use an electric vehicle charging station within his or her limited common element parking space will be able to do so by way of this new legislation, the association still has the authority to govern certain aspects of the installation and use and should be proactive in making rules and regulations in line with this authority. Your association’s legal counsel can be of great benefit to the board in creating a clear and concise process governing the electric car charging stations installation and use.