Electric Vehicles Increasing Popularity, How Does It Affect Body Corporate?

If today’s Nostradamus’ are to be believed, everyone will be driving electric vehicles (EV’s) in the foreseeable future.

Certainly, the major car manufacturers are intent of including EV models in their product lines, with many saying that in the not too distant future their model lines will consist entirely of EV’s.

The increased use of EV’s is creating an issue in community titles schemes.

Understandably, lot owners do not like paying for services where the whole of the body corporate does not benefit from the service.

In the EV context, this means owners get disgruntled where other owners use the common property electricity to charge their EV, without then reimbursing the body corporate for the cost of the electricity used.

Whilst at present we may only be talking about say $1,000 a year for one EV, that cost will quickly escalate where numerous occupiers in a scheme own EV’s.

What then are the solutions?

Well, bodies corporate may improve the common property by installing a charging station. Improvements to common property is provided for in the Regulation Modules.

Of course, the expenditure must be budgeted for (or a special levy struck) and the improvement must be authorised by the required resolution.

The trick though is to ensure any system installed provides for the electricity usage charge to paid directly by the owner of the EV. Bodies corporate must ensure they do not become the administrator of the billing system and that it does becomes the debtor to the electricity provider.

Also, access to charging stations need to be restricted to ensure they are not used by persons who do not live at the scheme.

We expect it will become common place for developers to ensure the proposed development incorporates charging stations such that it will not be necessary for bodies corporate to retro fit stations.  Does that mean though the developer will ensure a “user pays” model is incorporated into the scheme?

The situation may arise where a body corporate does not wish to expend funds to install a charging station. Where does that leave an owner of an EV?

If the owner of the EV has an exclusive use car space, then application can be to the Body Corporate by the lot owner to which that space attaches, to improve the common property by installing a charging station within the EU car space.

Any authorisation given by the Body Corporate ought to be conditional on any installation not being linked into the common property electricity but into the electricity supplied to the lot (assuming the lot is separately metered).

On the face of it, accommodating users of EV’s in Schemes appears relatively straightforward.

However, thought also must be given to:

  1. Is a supply of services agreement required between the Body Corporate and the EV owner;
  2. Is a grant of exclusive use over part of the common property necessary; and
  3. What is the interplay, if any, between the statutory easements under the Land Titles Act and the requirements of the BCCMA.

As the EV market becomes more mature we expect how bodies corporate deal with the issues which arise will also mature.The take home message – whatever method of installation is adopted; the body corporate must not be exposed to paying the electricity usage cost.

As always, Mark and Andrew are here to assist your bodies corporate with their legal needs.