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NEW LAW: Electric Vehicle Car Charging Stations in Common Interest Communities

By Brian Griffin, Esq. October 30, 2020 Posted in Community Association Law

Our office previously wrote a blog in 2018 about the current status of pending bills in the Senate and Assembly regarding car charging stations in common interest communities. You can read that blog here.

The bill NJ S.B. 2421 (2018) was passed by the Assembly and the Senate on January 13, 2020. However, when the bill went before the Governor, it was pocket vetoed on January 21, 2020. This means that the Governor did not directly respond to the bill and point out any objections.

The bill was then altered more favorably for common interest communities and was again submitted, with a different bill number, to the Assembly and Senate. This current bill that has been proposed is A3367. The bill passed the Assembly unanimously on July 30, 2020, and the Senate on August 27, 2020. Recently, on October 19, 2020, the bill became law.

The new law is a supplementation of the Planned Real Estate Full Disclosure Act. The law details the following:

Restrictions on Car Charging Stations are Prohibited: The law establishes standards to encourage the installation and use of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in common interest communities. The law expressly prohibits enforcement of any covenant, restriction or condition in any deed, or the adoption of rules, that unreasonably restrict the installation of the charging stations in the designated parking space of a unit owner. Reasonable restrictions are permitted, so long as the restrictions do not significantly increase the cost of the charging station or significantly decrease the efficiency or performance of the charging station. The law authorizes an association to install charging stations in common element parking spaces for the use of all unit owners, and to adopt appropriate rules and regulations for the use of common EV charging stations.

Approval of Car Charging Station: Where the approval of an association is required for the installation of a charging station, the law requires the application to be processed and approved in the same manner as an architectural modification. If the association’s executive board fails to approve or deny the application within sixty (60) days, the application is approved. The law allows an association to deny an application for the installation or use of an EV charging station if the association reasonably concludes that the EV charging station constitutes a life-safety risk.

Unit Owner Responsibility: The law authorizes the executive board, in its sole discretion, to grant the exclusive use of a common area parking space by a unit owner for the purposes of installing a charging station, subject to the following conditions:

  • The unit owner must comply with the association's architectural standards for the installation of the electric vehicle charging station;
  • The unit owner must engage a licensed contractor to install the EV charging station, including all necessary improvements and signage;
  • The unit owner must engage a licensed electrician to install all necessary electric lines and electrical infrastructure in compliance with the association's architectural standards;
  • The unit owner must obtain, maintain, and provide evidence of insurance protecting the association and the other unit owners from damage as a result of the EV charging station
  • The unit owner must pay for the electricity usage associated with the electric vehicle charging station; and
  • The unit owner must pay for reasonable charges imposed by the association to recover the costs of the review and approval of an application for the installation or use of an EV charging station, including, reasonable engineering and legal fees. An association may require an applicant to place anticipated review charges in escrow before commencing review of an application.

Assessment and Collection: If an association reasonably determines that the amount of electricity attributable to EV charging stations requires the installation of additional infrastructure, then the association may special assess those that have had charging stations installed. The association can collect costs from the unit owner in the same manner as collecting delinquent common expenses, rent, or other delinquent amounts under the governing documents of the community.

Successive Unit Owners: Each successive owner that uses the car charging station is responsible for

  • any damage to the EV charging station, the parking space, a common element, a limited common element, the property of other unit owners, or separate interests, which damage results from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station;
  • any maintenance, repair, and replacement of an EV charging station, and restoration of the area after removal of the EV charging station;
  • the electricity usage associated with the EV charging station;
  • all installation costs associated with the EV charging station; and
  • any costs associated with an application for the installation or use of an EV charging station to satisfy applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by State and local authorities, including but not limited to applicable zoning, land use, and other ordinance requirements.

Each unit owner, and each successive unit owner, is required to disclose the existence of the unit owner's EV charging station and the related responsibilities of the unit owner of a charging station.

Insurance: Unit owners, and each successive unit owner, that own car charging stations are required to maintain a homeowner's liability coverage policy in the amount of $100,000 and to name the association as a certificate holder with the right to receive a notice of cancellation. However, an association may require the unit owner to carry a homeowner's liability coverage policy in excess of $100,000 if the association's governing documents or rules and regulations require all unit owners to carry a greater amount. If the unit owner fails to obtain coverage, an association may procure insurance on a unit owner's behalf and charge the unit owner the cost of the insurance.

Creation of a Parking Space: As association can create a parking space where one did not previously exist to facilitate the installation of a charging station. If a new parking space would be located in a common element or limited common element, the association can make reasonable rules and regulations for its use by unit owners. However, if an association elects to create a new parking space to accommodate a charging station for the exclusive use of a unit owner, then that unit owner would be responsible for all costs associated with creating the parking space, including but not limited to, land use approvals, permits, reviews, easements, and construction costs.

This new law will change the way that the common interest communities will handle electric vehicle car charging stations.

 

The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular circumstances.  Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 

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