Electric vehicle (“EV”) charging stations are on the rise. Many strata owners are requesting the installation of charging stations. Recently, we have seen charging stations pop up around the city of Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan. those stations can be found here.
An EV car can be charged by just using a regular 120 V outlet. Therefore, an owner can charge their car by plugging it into an outlet already located in the strata’s parking garage. Note that if there are no restrictions within the bylaws and/or rules the owner has the right to do so. If the owner is using the general common property outlet, then the expense incurred from charging the car would be an expense that is born by all of the owners who are paying for the common property electricity. Many owners are not happy that they are paying for another owner’s electricity.
Costs and User Fees
The Strata Property Regulations were recently amended on March 7, 2018, and now include user fees for services or costs of services that apply to common property and/or common assets. When a strata installs or has already installed EV station, the strata must adopt bylaws and/or rules that set out the cost for the EV station. This is at a fixed rate per hour which would include the electrical costs and maintenance costs.
A bylaw can set out the amount or the bylaws can refer to a rule that sets out the formula/user fee that will apply. EV stations should be a “user pay” system (section 110 of the Strata Property Act). Therefore, the strata corporation should not allow an owner to charge their vehicle unless that owner, occupant or tenant pays a fee in relation to the use – the “user fee”.
In determining what the user fee should be the strata council should look at comparable charging stations (may be a good idea to look at what Kelowna charging station rates are) and the actual cost that the strata corporation incurs for the usage. The user fee must be reasonable. The charging stations should not be a “money grab” for the strata. The user fee should be used to cover the use and maintenance of the electricity that is being used by the owners, occupants or tenants.
Owners Installing Their Own Charging Stations
An owner who wants to install their own charging station most likely is making a significant change (s.71 of the Strata Property Act) to common property and therefore would have to get the strata corporation’s approval at a special or annual general meeting to do so. There will be similar issues as noted above as to the usage of electricity and portioning that owner’s usage and their user fee.
It is recommended that the strata have an assumption of liability (most likely in an agreement with that owner) with the owner if the owner installs their own charging station so that the strata is protected from any issues that may arise. The owner would be responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of the charging station and it should not be borne by the strata corporation.
Collection For Unpaid User Fees
Note as well that unpaid user fees are “non-lienable” amounts and therefore if an owner is not paying their user fee the strata corporation will have to pursue collections through the Civil Resolution Tribunal.
Maris Holmes is a Strata Property lawyer at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP.
This article is for general information only and is not to be relied upon as legal advice. If you have questions or require legal advice please contact Maris Holmes.