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Condo Q&A: Must the Association Help Install Vehicle Chargers?

Some communities once denied requests for car-charging stations because it involves work to the entire electrical system, but state law changed and that’s no longer an option. Individual owners generally must pay for upgrades, but for many condo communities, it’s not that simple.

STUART, Fla. – Question: One of our owners purchased an electric vehicle and has requested to install a charging station in his parking space. The utility company informed him that it would be very costly to install the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the charging station, and the owner is demanding the association install the upgraded infrastructure as a common expense. Is the association required to do this for one owner? – O.L., Vero Beach

Answer: The presence of electric vehicles is becoming more and more prevalent, and most communities will be addressing this issue shortly if they have not already been faced with this dilemma. Because the installation can require some work to the electrical system, some condominiums were initially denying requests to install any charger. The vehicle owners were left without a charging option. The Florida Legislature then amended Chapter 718 governing condominiums to provide vehicle owners with the ability to install a charging station in certain conditions.

Specifically, Section 718.113(8) now provides that the condominium association cannot prohibit an owner from installing a charging station within the boundaries of the owner’s limited common element parking area. This sounds good, but there are a few practical problems.

First, this assumes that the parking spaces are limited common elements. Some condominium documents do not delineate that parking spaces are limited common elements.

Second, the owner must pay for installation, operation, maintenance, repair and insurance of the charging station. Although most owners understand this requirement and agree to be responsible for these expenses, some buildings do not have sufficient electrical infrastructure to allow a single unit owner to install a charging station. It would either over-tax the system in general or it would be impossible. As a result, many owners are faced with having to pay tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade the system because, in our opinion, it is not necessary for the association to pay these expenses just so a single owner can install a charging station.

If the existing electrical infrastructure must be upgraded or overhauled due to its age or condition, that would be a different analysis, but the possibility of a charging station is not, in itself, a reason for the board to upgrade or overhaul the electrical system.

As a result, some condominiums are installing common charging stations that could be used by all owners with the ability to pay per charge. Others are electing to upgrade the infrastructure, but often only based on engineering recommendations that would make it easier and less expensive for a unit owner to tie into a system with enough capacity to install additional chargers.

I should note that in the event the association were to install common charges in common areas, it would obviously need to adopt rules to prohibit one owner from effectively colonizing and permanently using a parking space, and it would also be subject to the material alteration analysis under the specific condominium documents. Because there is no charging station in the common element space before, installing a charging station would most likely be deemed a material alteration and require a vote of the owners unless a vote is not required due to the terms of your specific condominium documents.

Question: Our HOA is beginning the process of updating our Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions, and owners are confused on whether all property owners’ signatures must be notarized on their vote. What is the law on this? – P.R., Stuart

Answer: As you would expect, the answer is that it depends.

Your first step would be to find the specific amendment provision in each document being updated and determine if there are any self-imposed requirements. For example, some documents specifically provide that all votes to amend the covenants must be executed with the same formalities of a deed, which would require two witnesses and a notary. Other documents just say that amendments are passed by votes in person or by proxy at a meeting. Other bylaws also include a section on how to vote on all general matters which could control and provide something different.

In short, votes do not generally need to be notarized, and it is not a default requirement, but you should consult a licensed Florida attorney to review each document being revised and determine whether a vote requires additional formalities.

John C. Goede Esq. is co-founder and shareholder of the Law Firm of Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publication of this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross or any of our attorneys. Readers should not act or refrain from acting based upon the information contained in this article without first contacting an attorney, if you have questions about any of the issues raised herein. The hiring of an attorney is a decision that should not be based solely on advertisements or this column.

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