Mountain Law: New law allows tenants and HOA unit owners to install electric vehicle charging stations
A new Colorado law took effect in 2013 that generally requires residential landlords and HOAs to allow their tenants and unit owners to install electric vehicle charging stations (EVCSs). This article discusses some of the details of the law.
Except as noted, the law is essentially the same as it applies to tenants and unit owners whom I will refer to jointly as “Chargers.” Chargers now have the right to install Level 1 (120 Volt) or Level 2 (240 Volt) EVCSs at their own expense.
Tenants are allowed to install EVCSs on the leased premises or in an area accessible to other tenants (such as a non-designated parking spot). The law suggests that a landlord must reserve a parking spot for a tenant who installs an EVCS subject to the tenant paying a reasonable fee. The law is silent about such issues as how far a landlord must go to reserve a spot (e.g., must a landlord install signage?) and what happens if an unauthorized person uses the spot. (The law also does not address the case of a tenant in an HOA unit, but it has been suggested that the tenant can require the landlord/owner to make a demand on the HOA to install an EVCS as if the landlord/owner were requesting it personally.)
Similar to tenants, unit owners are allowed to install EVCSs on their own units or “on a limited common element parking space, carport,or garage owned by the unit owner or otherwise assigned to the owner in the declaration or other recorded document . . . .” This quoted language apparently means that unit owners do not have the right to install EVCSs in a project where parking is permitted on general common elements without owners being assigned specific spots. Determining rights in this regard would require studying an HOA’s governing documents.
Except as noted above, landlords and HOAs are not allowed to charge fees for EVCSs. However, they are allowed to require reimbursement for the actual cost of electricity that they provide and for certain costs they incur attributable to EVCSs.
Landlords and HOAs may require Chargers to comply with (1) bona fide safety requirements regarding the installation and use of EVCSs; (2) a requirement to register EVCSs within thirty days after installation; and (3) reasonable aesthetic provisions that govern the dimensions, placement or appearance of EVCSs. In addition, where a tenant installs an EVCS in an area accessible to other tenants, or where a unit owner installs an EVCS in an area other than the owner’s unit (such as a limited common element parking space), the landlord or HOA can require the Charger to comply with design specifications; engage a duly licensed and registered electrical contractor familiar with EVCS requirements; and provide special insurance coverage regarding the EVCS. Chargers are generally responsible for damage attributable to their EVCSs.
An EVCS belongs to the person who installed it. A Charger may remove an EVCS or sell it upon termination of the lease or sale of a unit. The successor to the original Charger assumes responsibility for damage and insurance relating to the EVCS. This is the case even where a tenant does not purchase the EVCS but obtains the exclusive right to use it through a new lease. These rights and obligations concerning successors can be modified through a written agreement.
Landlords and HOAs should consider addressing EVCS issues now before they arise by inserting language into leases or adopting an EVCS policy. The new law creates an electric vehicle grant fund that is designed to provide grants to local governments, landlords and HOAs to install EVCSs for general use. It will be interesting to see if new EVCSs start popping up under the new law.
Noah Klug owns The Klug Law Firm LLC. Contact him at (970) 468-4953 or Noah@TheKlugLawFirm.com.
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