EV Charging For Apartments and Condominiums

Practical Suggestions from an EV Owner who is also a Property Manager and Home Builder.

Providing adequate EV Charging for Apartments and Condominiums certainly involves a variety of issues. Issues that can often lead to conflict and tension between the electric vehicle owner and the property manager or board of directors.

As an electric vehicle owner myself and also a licensed home builder and property manager, here’s my perspective on the challenges involved in increasing the rate of adoption of EV charging solutions. Given the percentage of individuals that live in apartment and condo communities, this is certainly an issue that deserves attention.

As a Tesla owner, I understand the importance of having access to an appropriate charging solution at your residence. Any association or property manager who unilaterally decides to forbid them is not only doing a disservice to their residents, but is also being extremely financially shortsighted. EV charging solutions will eventually be a major draw in a residential properties. Those without them will miss out on an ever increasing pool of potential residents.

Current Legislation

It’s great to see legislature already being enacted, with much more in the works, that require community associations to allow EV charging station to be installed.

Such as Bill Number: 1030, currently on the docket in the State of New Jersey. That bill is encourages the adoption of EV charging for apartments and condominiums. The issue becomes how the term “reasonable restrictions” is interpreted. And how it is applied across a multitude of different properties, with different physical and architectural challenges. Unfortunately, this can lead to a legal mess, with cooler heads not often prevailing.

Issues Faced: EV Charging for Apartments and Condominiums

Quite honestly, the technical and physical challenges in installing EV charging for apartments and condominiums, can be quite daunting. The goal of any property manager should be to work to ensure equal enjoyment of the property by all residents. While enforcing any community standards as approved by the owners of the property. Those standards need to be applied fairly and equally to everyone.

That said, there are absolutely times when accommodations to existing rules and regulations need to be made. This has become an issue with those requiring marijuana for medicinal purposes. And also in situations requiring dogs as emotional support animals. Personally, I understand the need for both of these. However, I can tell you from experience, that other residents and owners don’t, which puts the property manager in a difficult position.

Ultimately, tensions can arise when one individual is granted an exception. When then others think they are being slighted. So they want their own accommodation as well.

Property Specific Obstacles

Specific to EV charging installation, there are many properties where this cannot be done without impacting common areas of the property. In some cases that is a solvable issue. However, you may be surprised at the feedback management may get.

“Why is that person allowed to run an electrical line through a common area, but you are not allowing me to store my bike in the utility room?” Or, “Why can they install a charger on the side of the building, but I can put up holiday decoration on my front door?” Are we comparing apples to oranges here? I think so. But these are the issues that arise. Often causing management to revert to the strictest interpretation of property rules and regulations.

Certain properties, such as townhouses with their own deeded parking directly in front or behind their unit and in very close proximity to the building, set up very well for the installation of an EV charger. In my opinion, a community preventing that type of installation is clearly imposing a restriction more than what is reasonable. If that occurs regularly, then laws do need to be enacted to prevent it from continuing.

But what about apartment communities without assigned parking? With third floor units on the opposite side of the building from the parking lot? Should conduit be allowed to be installed through hallways and out and down the side of the building? I would think a restriction on this could be considered reasonable.

Have Honest Discussions – Early & Often

In the opposite situation where there is a more direct route for a specific unit and it is allowed, management then has to deal with the other owner whom was denied. There are so many other issues outside of EV charging that can come up as well, where by helping one resident, management then faces backlash from another. This, in some cases, leads to being accused of discrimination. I think many would be surprised at how quickly things can get out of control. While none of these arguments may seem valid to the specific issue of EV Charging for apartments and condominiums, this can be what leads to certain decisions by management.

This is all to say that if you are debating an EV purchase, bring the topic up as early as you can to your community association or property manager. Don’t wait until after you purchase your vehicle. There may be technical issues you are totally unaware of. For example, I have some properties that would not be able to support anything more than an additional 15-20 amp circuit, without major electrical service upgrades.

Ultimately, moving may be the best and sometimes only solution. Even if you are being treated unfairly, don’t rule that out as an option, if in the end it adds the most value to your life. Often times stubbornness on both sides can get in the way of a peaceable solution. No one really wins when you have to sue your own landlord or condo association.

However, where alternate housing is simply not an option for you, there may be times where litigation is absolutely necessary. Legal support on those grounds is growing, as it should be. I would just strongly encourage anyone considering doing so to explore EVERY possible alternative. Even if you win, is this the type of community you want to live in?

In the end, there is just no physically and financially viable way to retrofit charging solutions in some buildings. The more complicated the potential solution, the more opposition you are likely to face.

EV Charging in New Construction

Thankfully, progress is being made in new construction. EV charging is now being added as a requirement in many building codes. However, many communities are not doing a good job enforcing in and many builders are just ignorant to it.

Others builders, like myself, are installing EV chargers in new homes. I recently had a customer install 2 in their garage, and 1 outside for guests. A total of (3) additional, dedicated 50 amp circuits. This added substantial cost to the build, but it was important to this homeowner to be part of the EV charging solution.

Increased EV charging infrastructure is also being incorporated into initial design and engineering on new multi-family buildings. If nothing else, the construction field is trending in the right direction, albeit it slowly at times.

What We All Can Do

Likewise, all of us that are supports of increased EV adoption, need to be part of the solution. For those with the means, this may mean additional out of pocket costs. At the very least we can all help spread awareness. A large portion of the general public really has no good way of understanding these issues. Like many things in life, education is key.

So if you’re faced with issues regarding EV charging for apartments and condominiums, be proactive and explore all potential and creative solutions. If you face opposition try to understand where the other side is coming from. Even if they are dead wrong, doing so may help you come to a resolution.

And remember, you’re a modern day trailblazer. You’re ahead of the curve. Show empathy towards those that aren’t. They just don’t get it yet. Eventually they will have to or will be left behind.

Recent history alone proves that. Remember those that said they would never use a Personal Computer? Or a cell phone? In the big picture a lot of minds were radically changed. And all in a fraction of a generation.

Electric vehicle adoption is next!

-Chris Cunningham
Home Builder / Property Manager
2018 Model 3 LR AWD

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