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Law Alert: Update On Legislation Regarding The Installation Of Car Charging Stations In Common Interest Communities

Your community association may have encountered the following scenario:

A resident shows up one day in his or her new Tesla Model S and informs the board that his or her electrician is on the way to install a state of the art electric vehicle charging station in his or her assigned parking space, which happens to be a part of the common elements.

As part of the general trend towards “clean” energy and electric vehicles, these types of scenarios have occurred in Common Interest Communities (“CIC”) for the last several years.  Dating back to 2018, the New Jersey legislature has attempted to address this very issue.  In fact, there were several pending bills in the Senate and Assembly regarding car charging stations in common interest communities.  Recently, the bill  A3367/S1951 was passed by the Assembly and Senate and signed into law by Governor Murphy on October 19, 2020.  The bill will act as a supplement to the Planned Real Estate Full Disclosure Act. The highlights of the bill include the following items:

  • UNREASONABLE RESTRICTIONS ARE PROHIBITED. CICs cannot prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation of EV charging stations. The law is designed to encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Common Interest Communities.  The law prohibits the enforcement of any covenant, restriction, or adoption of rules that would unreasonably restrict the installation of charging stations in the designated parking space of a unit owner.  Reasonable restrictions may be allowed as long as they do not significantly increase the cost of the charging station or decrease its efficiency. CICs are required to permit an owner to install an electric vehicle charging station in a parking space owned or assigned to the owner, even if it requires reasonable access through the common elements.
  • THE BOARD’S RIGHTS.
    • CICs should review applications for charging stations in the same manner as other owner applications for modifications and alterations. The CIC can impose reasonable architectural standards for charging stations.
    • If the CIC reasonably concludes that the cumulative use of electricity on the premises attributable to charging stations requires the installation of additional electrical infrastructure improvements, the CIC may hold applications in abeyance until the improvements are complete and may also specially assess owners with charging stations and those with pending applications the associated costs
    • Boards, at their discretion, have the authority to license a common area, non-assigned parking space to an owner to install a charging station, create new parking spaces for the purposes of the installation for charging stations, and to install charging stations for the common use. Boards may also adopt appropriate rules and regulations for the use of these common charging stations.  If a charging station is created to for the exclusive use of an owner, then that owner would be responsible for all costs associated with creating the parking space.
    • A CIC may deny a charging station application if it poses a life-safety risk.
  • UNIT OWNER RESPONSIBILITY.
    • The charging station and the installation must meet all applicable codes, standards, and land use statutes, regulations, and ordinances.
    • The owner must engage a licensed electrician to perform the charging station installation.
    • The owner must maintain at least $100,000 in homeowner’s liability insurance and may have to maintain a higher amount if the same is required of all owners under the governing documents or rules and regulations.
    • The owner must pay for all electricity usage.
    • The Owner must pay for all the review charges incurred by the CIC, such as engineering fees, electrician fees, and legal fees.
    • Owners are responsible for all damages caused by their charging station and all installation costs.
    • The owner must advise prospective purchasers of the owner’s unit of the charging station and the responsibilities required .
    • The owner must indemnify and hold the CIC and other owners harmless from any claims for bodily injury and property damage related to the charging station.

This new law will have a large impact on the way your CIC handles electric vehicle charging stations.  If you would like to discuss any questions you may have regarding how this law impacts your community, please contact us.

By: Matthew Z. Earle, Esq. and Cara Landolfi, Esq.

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