Query about electric vehicle and condo association

Q: An owner advised the Board of our Condominium of his intention to purchase a plug-in electric vehicle and is requesting permission to install a charging station in his assigned parking space. The parking spaces in our garage are assigned but not owned.  How should the Board respond and what responsibility does the Association Board have to allow common elements to be altered to accommodate the charging stations?  Who pays for the electric service and what requirements, such as maintenance and insurance, should be assigned to the individual Co-owner? Does the Board have to obtain approval from the other Co-owners?  

A:  This is a very complex and, obviously, bifurcated question.  The subject of electric cars and charging stations is becoming a “hot topic” for Condominiums.  The Board should certainly encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and accommodate the necessary stations to service the automobiles. The Board should grant the owners’ request to modify the common elements by installing a charging station in the parking space. With that consent, the Board will have to determine the means to bill the owner for electricity as a user charge, unless the charging station has a separate meter which the Board may wish to require be established. With any addition to the common elements the Board may approve, the Directors should require the Co-owner to provide the necessary insurance and indemnify the association for any damages arising from the use or operation of the station by way of the typical modification agreement which we often provide to our clients. The Association may wish to provide for multiple charging stations in a garage and make the maintenance of these facilities part of the common expenses as the Board may enhance the marketability of the building by offering this amenity for prospective buyers.  In any event, legal counsel should pass on the entire process.