Is Your Condo Corporation Ready for Electric Cars?

While many new condo developments feature integrated charging stations for Electric Vehicles, you may face an uphill battle if you want a charging station installed in a pre-existing condo building.  This raises the question, is your condo corporation ready for electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles first hit Ontario streets in 2011.  Since then, their popularity has increased tremendously, and there are now well over 6,000 EVs on the road in Canada.  With fuel prices continuing to rise and automakers adopting EVs as mainstream rather than a niche market, we can safely assume that EVs will be more and more common going forward.

There are many advantages to owning an electric car, with decreased fuel costs and a reduced environmental footprint being only the most obvious.

Electric cars surprisingly outperform gas-powered vehicles, offering the same speed, horsepower, and acceleration in a much smoother ride.  And if you hate the constant tune-ups, oil changes and babying most gas-powered vehicles require, here’s more good news: EVs need much less maintenance!

Ontario offers tax rebates (as much as $8,500!) for consumers purchasing electric vehicles, and they certainly have an undeniable style factor.  EVs are cool!  Most models offer sleek, modern designs and all the latest features found in gas-powered vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, EV sales are projected to increase exponentially across the country.  Unfortunately, the roughly 1.6 million Ontario condo residents may find it difficult to take advantage of their many perks.

The bottom line is quite simple – retrofitting existing buildings to install EV charging stations is a costly and complex procedure.  These buildings often lack the necessary infrastructure to support such stations, and many older condos don’t offer separate metering.  Instead, hydro costs are split between unit owners.  There is no simple process to charge the EV owners for the electricity needed to charge their vehicles.  Worse still, these charging stations raise questions about liability and insurance requirements.

While all these issues definitely complicate the situation, you still have options if you want to install a charging station in your building.  Chances are, for the short term at least, that your condo board will be able to address requests on an individual basis.  If you are willing to pay for your own charging station – many of which can meter the user directly, mitigating the concerns about hydro usage – you have a good case to bring before your board.

Here are some of the steps you should take if you want to install an EV charging station in your condo:

  1. Talk to your neighbours and recruit support for your plan.  Emphasize that you will be paying for the upgrade yourself and that the hydro costs will be individually metered and paid by you.
  2. Thoroughly research the options and clarify all costs and payments.
  3. Talk to a lawyer.  Clarify all liability and insurance issues and be prepared to answer questions about these issues when you go before the board.
  4. Address the board at one of their regular meetings and present your case.  Make sure you are well prepared with all information at your fingertips.  Answer any questions they may have.  Your condo board will then vote on the issue.  Good Luck!
  5. Once your condo board has approved the installation, you will likely need to enter into an alteration agreement which will specify who is responsible for payments, maintenance, and insurance on the charging station.
  6. Note that if you own your parking space (and it is not part of the condo’s common elements), you will only need to enter an alteration agreement to the extent of the alterations to the surrounding common elements (the structure of the garage itself).

Most EV charging stations cost on average $2000-$3000, and there may be additional expenses for electrical work etc.  If that’s a little steep for you and you want your condo to offset the cost of the installation, your best bet is to campaign among your neighbours to drum up support for the installation.  Meet with your condo board and present your idea as a beneficial long term retrofit.  If the other owners support the idea, eventually, the board will come around.

With the increased popularity of EVs, there is now a growing market for EV charging stations and accessories.  As the technology improves, the issues with retrofits on existing condos will no doubt be mitigated.  At Buttonwood Property Management, minimizing our environmental footprint and educating others in the process is core to our values.

Thanks for reading!

Sabine Ghali
Sabine Ghali
Helping real estate investors build wealth over time

Sabine Ghali, Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, Award Winning Real Estate Broker and an Entrepreneur at heart. Sabine is on a mission to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Gulf News, among many others.