In 2018, there were a million electric cars on the roads in the U.S. By 2025, there will be more than 18 million electric cars on U.S. roads, according to PolicyAdvice and Business Insider.  Electric car owners will want to charge their cars at home, at the mall, at work or in every parking garage. The question is, who should pay for an electric car home charging station if you live in a condo building? All the owners or just the owners who use the electric car home charging station? One thing is clear, condo buildings will need to find ways to electric car home charging stations since more homeowners plan to buy electric cars in the future.

Who pays for the electric car home charging station and the electricity homeowners use?

Q: I read your Real Estates Matters column each week. Here’s my question: In our condo building we have twelve units and each unit has its own garage. The association pays for the electricity for all of the garage units. What happens if someone purchases an electric car and wants to charge it in the garage? What if the owner needs the building to install an electric home charging station? Should the owner pay for that upgrade and would that unit owner pay more because they’re using more electricity?

How many homeowners own electric vehicles?

A: This is a great question. We, too, have wondered what condominium associations will do with this issue now that so many people are buying (and are being encouraged to buy) electrical vehicles. In fact, in 1918, there were only a million electric cars owned and on the roads. By 2025, there will be 18 million electric cars in the U.S. alone. In the U.S., electric vehicles account for less than 2% of the car market, so they’re not that common yet.

Should all condo owners pay equally even if they don’t own an electric car?

The premise of your question is that it doesn’t seem fair to have all of the unit owners share equally in the electric bill when there are one or more homeowners that own electric vehicles and power them in the garage. 

True enough. That doesn’t seem fair. Still, condominium boards have broad discretion on how to run their associations. We’ve been to a growing number of condominium buildings and seen home charging stations. In each of these instances, it looked to us like the charging station was tied into the building electric system and was not separately metered. (One exception: a local workout club has a meter on their charging station, but the cost is pennies for several hours of charging.)

Consider the electric car home charging station as a condo building amenity

If you don’t want to meter up the charging station, you could consider the charging station an amenity like any other. Some buildings have picnic and grill areas and provide homeowners with free gas, logs or other items for their parties and activities. Other buildings have party rooms with tables, chairs and other items for their members to host parties. In most, if not all, of these other situations any homeowner can take advantage of the party room, pool, recreational facility, exercise room, and other available benefits without paying extra fees.

Electric car home charging stations may make your building more valuable

If the charging station is available for any homeowner to use, consider it as another amenity offered by that building. Maybe it will make the property more desirable to future buyers (and may even help propel values higher). However, if the home charging station is only available to one owner (and only that owner), then it may be fairer for that owner to pay the building the estimated cost for the electricity – or perhaps reimburse the building for the cost of installing the charging station.

Consider charging a monthly fee to cover the cost of the charging station, electricity and other expenses.

Here’s another idea: Perhaps the condominium association could require owners to sign up for a slot and then charge those owners a monthly fee to use the charging station. It would cover the cost of installing the electric car home charging station, the electricity the owner uses, and other expenses, like insurance (if you need to increase your coverage to account for the charging station).

Compare past electric bills with the current one to see what the extra usage costs

That’s an easy workaround, since it’s likely too expensive to install a separate electric meter. But your association should compare past electrical bills with the current bills to see how much the extra electricity has cost and come up with a fair sum to charge that unit owner or any other unit owner that wants access to the charging station.

Does your building offer free charging for your electric vehicle?

Over time, you can decide if the monthly fee is fair or change it to make it fair for everyone. We’d love to hear from our readers about how their condo associations are dealing with this issue, especially since climate change seems to be on everyone’s minds these days.

Read more:

Is the Condo Board Responsible for Enforcing Association Rules?

Navigating Rules and Rights in Your Condo Association

Can a Condo Board Change Bylaws?

How to Deal Effectively with a Condo or Homeowners Association

©2021 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.