As Canadians become increasingly concerned about the environment, car companies are responding by adding electric vehicles to their offerings. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular with Canadians and the trend is likely to continue. Currently, Ontario consumers are eligible for rebates of up to $8,500 for the purchase of certain electric vehicles and the cost of an electric vehicle is only expected to go down as time goes on. One Toronto condominium developer has gone as far as to offer a free electric car to the first 20 purchasers of parking spaces with an electric charger.

Most existing condominiums were not built to accommodate the installation of electric car chargers in parking spaces. However, considering recent trends, it was only a matter of time before existing condominiums are going to have to deal with requests for the installation of chargers. Many previous requests made to condominium boards were not approved either because of the perceived complications involved in the installation process or because these boards took the “wait and see” approach to determine how the market for electric vehicles would evolve. It is safe to say that electric cars are here to stay and are not some passing fade. As a result, condominiums cannot continue with either approach and, boards of directors need to start thinking about how to deal with these requests.

Some corporations have considered installing car charging stations that can be shared.  This is not a practical solution in most cases given the differing needs of residents.  A more feasible approach is to permit the installation of electric charging stations in individual parking spaces where possible. This will require the unit owner to enter into an agreement with the condominium corporation pursuant to section 98 of the Condominium Act, 1998, which addresses changes made to the common elements by unit owners.  The agreement would set out clearly that the unit owner is responsible for all costs associated with the electric charger including its installation and use. The agreement would be registered on title to the owner’s unit. Even if the parking space is a unit, changes will have to be made to the common element electrical supply to bring electricity to the parking space.

In this case, a sub-meter will also have to be installed to measure the consumption of electricity by the owner who will be responsible for the cost of that consumption. The installation must be carried out by a qualified electrician/contractor who is certified by Measurements Canada. An agreement will then have to be entered into with a sub-metering company to read the sub-meter and provide regular invoices for the hydro consumption based on the readings of the sub-meter. It may also be possible for the unit owner to enter into the sub-metering agreement directly with the sub-metering provider. Alternatively, it may be the Corporation who is required to enter in to this agreement, in which case the agreement between the unit owner and the Corporation will provide that all costs billed to the Corporation from the sub-metering company will be added to the common expenses payable for the owner’s unit. The agreement will also have to provide that the owner is responsible to insure, maintain and repair the sub-meter and electric charging station.

Another consideration will be what happens when the electric car charger is no longer required, either because the owner no longer has an electric car or sells the unit to someone who does not have one. The Corporation will likely want to ensure that everything remains in place except for the sub-meter which may be removed if the electric charger is no longer in use. In that case, the unit owner should be responsible to hire a qualified electrician to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the electric charger can no longer be used until a new sub-meter is installed.

It may be that some spaces simply cannot accommodate an electric charger or that, in some cases, the cost to bring electricity to the space is prohibitive.  There may be little the corporation can do in these situations. However, the majority of parking spaces may be able to accommodate electric chargers and as a result, the boards of directors and management should be open to finding ways to accommodate requests while taking the necessary steps to protect the corporation and ensure that owners are fully responsible for all costs associated with their installation and use.