The Addition of Charging Stations to Florida Condominium or HOA Properties: Requirements, Concerns & Challenges
Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
One of the things we're not going to be covering today is how local municipalities and counties have been responding to permit requests, and so forth for the installation of this type of equipment, and whether there are any local codes or ordinances that might apply. We're not going to go into depth on that because, obviously, it's going to be different all around the state.
This is an industry where the technology is fairly new. The companies are a little bit behind the eight ball in their maintenance facilities, their ability to perform maintenance. They've built far more than, apparently, they've been able to maintain. The legislature got involved, especially on the condo side, passing legislation that's somewhat confusing and contradictory, which Cindy's going to get into in a moment.
One of the things that we found, and we'll talk about it in-depth, is that some properties have the electrical capacity to support charging stations, some don't. Upgrading your electrical system in order to support a charging station is a significant project in and of itself, so we're going to talk about that. With no further ado, Cindy, why don't you talk a little bit about what the Florida Legislature did for condominiums in the area of charging stations?Cindy Hill, Esq.:
Okay. Well, generally, those of you who have lived in condominiums, or managed them, or had familiarity with them over the years know that you can't make changes to common elements in condominiums without being concerned about what's called a material alteration. A material alteration has been a concept, even though it's not actually in the Condominium Act, it's been a concept that's been accepted by the courts in Florida for years as being any change that would palpably or perceptively appreciably affect or influence the function, use, or appearance of condominium property. That's a mouthful.
What that comes down to in the case law is that if you change the color of the building, if you change from asphalt to pavers, if you change a tennis court to a pickleball court, any of these types of changes are going to fall into your material alteration analysis, where you need to see if the statute's going to require an ownership vote for these changes, or if your documents are going to provide different guidance, because the statue says 75% of the owners are needed to approve a material alteration to a condominium, unless the condominium's declaration states otherwise.
Usually, making a change like we're going to discuss today, to install electric vehicle charging stations would be a big burden before you even started looking into the logistics of it, but that's not the case because the legislature decided to create a statute on point for this. For once, in many instances where I get asked questions about, "Can we do this? Can we do that?" I say, "Well, I don't really know what your documents say if you're not my actual client." In this case, this is statutory. You might have some practical logistical issues with this statute, but the requirements are going to be statutory, not document-driven, so you're going to want to pay attention to the statute if this is an issue for your condominium.
Why did the legislature do this? Well, they specifically put in the opening of the change to the statute, and it is quoted here on the page 718.113(8), that they found that the use of electric vehicles conserves and protects the state's environmental resources, provides significant economic benefit savings to drivers, and serves as an important public interest. It's under that hat, so to speak, that the legislature has deemed to make electric vehicle charging stations something that is outside of the normal requirements for installations that would normally impact material alterations to the common elements.
The next slide, I believe, is going to lay out the next part of what I'm going to discuss. Okay. The statute has basically two lists of what's going to apply when you go to request ... By the way, this is the part, the request from a unit owner to install. We are going to discuss a little later the part where the association itself wants to put in a public, or not necessarily public, but one for the use of all owners. This analysis is for when you get a unit owner who wants to install an electric charging station for their vehicle.
First of all, they have to have a limited common element or exclusively designated parking space. If you have open parking and no one has the right to a particular parking space, you might have to stop there. Next, the installation cannot cause irreparable damage to the condominium property. Some of these conversations about how your older condominiums maybe aren't outfitted for these changes, the analysis might have to stop there as well.
For those of you who have assigned parking, newer buildings, newer communities, let's get to the next hurdle for this. The unit owner's responsible for the cost of the installation of the station, as well as maintenance and repair, and that includes hazard and liability insurance. For those of you who are concerned that if someone puts in an electric vehicle charging station, there's not necessarily parameters for how that should be done, or who should pay for it, it's right here in the statute.
The unit owner has to pay for the installation of the station. The unit owner has to pay for the maintenance for it. The unit owner has to pay for the repair for it, and the unit owner has to pay insurance for hazard and liability for it.
Then the next question might be, what happens if they sell the unit and the next owner doesn't want it? Well, the statute's clear on that too. If the unit owner even decides him or herself that they no longer want it, or they sell the unit and the new purchaser doesn't want it, that owner is responsible for the cost of the removal of the electric vehicle charging station.
Just in case there was any doubt, the next portion of the statute does provide that the unit owner must comply with all applicable laws and governmental regulations. Going back to, Alan was saying earlier, we're not going to delve into those because they are going to be dependent on what area of the state you're in. There's no question though that the unit owner who wants to install electric vehicle charging station has to comply with whatever those local requirements are.
The next part of the statute says ... Those were all the must, you must do this if you're a unit owner. The next part is the condo association may require the unit owner do to the following: Comply with industry safety standards. I don't know why that's a may. I have no idea why the legislature thought that'd be a may. I would put that in the must category, but it says you may do it, which means I would recommend you do so.
The next may category is compliance with reasonable architectural standards, so to the extent there is a way to position an electric vehicle charging station in such a manner that maybe it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb, or that there may be some aesthetic barriers you could put around it. As long as those are reasonable, the statute does allow that.
The condominium association may also require the unit owner to engage the services of a licensed vendor who is familiar with electrical charging stations. That's a practical requirement that might be hard to meet based on some of the things I've been hearing about the industry, but that is something that they can require. I would recommend if you do that you have some vendors on your list that you recommend that they contact.
Also, you may require the owner to provide a certificate of insurance. I don't consider that a may. My clients that have had electrical vehicle charging stations installed pursuant to a unit owner request have required that certificate of insurance. Then I have advised, and they have done so, they've taken that to the association's insurance agent to ensure that the coverage is in fact applicable and appropriate for what the requirements need to be for the liability for the community.
The final may is that the unit owner can be required to reimburse the association for any increase in insurance premium costs. That's not something I've actually experienced with my clients, but that's another concern to discuss with the association's insurance agent. Is there sufficient insurance for the potential liability of what could happen with an electric vehicle charging station? If so, is the coverage adequate?
That's quite a long list of considerations. I have recommended that my associations that are going to allow unit owners, because they can, they have the feasibility to allow electric vehicle charging stations, create a board policy and a form for the owners to fill out so that these hurdles are clear from the start.
In my experience, unit owners putting in electrical vehicle charging stations really don't have any idea that the condominium even needs to be involved necessarily, much less whether or not the cost is going to be borne by them, they'd have to get insurance. These are all pieces of information that a unit owner should have in their hands before they go out and hire an electrician to put an electrical vehicle charging station in their garage, and then find out later that there's an issue. I give that example because it has happened with my clients.
One final point I want to make, and it's more of an academic point than a practical one, but it goes back to the fact the legislature decided to give this exception to the material alteration for electrical vehicle charging stations, and is that the legislature also creates an easement for the installation of the electrical vehicle charging station and hooking it up through the association's common elements. That practicality engineering part is covered by the legislature as well.
I know someone was asking for some good news. I will say, having brought up the owner who put the electrical vehicle charging station in their garage without association approval and without an electrician, my client made a demand that they rectify those issues. They were rectified and he now happily has an approved electrician-certified electrical vehicle charging station in his garage. That's one piece of good news I can offer in a world where it seems like we don't get too much of it.
That is that statute in a nutshell. Again, the citation for it, you can get it on the Florida Statute's website and start making a checklist for your board, for your community as to what these obligations are.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Cindy, let me ask you a question. Are there circumstances where you would recommend a declaration amendment versus a board trying to govern the charging stations through just merely a board rule?Cindy Hill, Esq.:
There could be circumstances where that'd be recommended. I would say if the community was particularly concerned with the aesthetics of it and wanted it in a particular area in a garage or a parking area, that would be a very good amendment to the declaration to be clear on that. Because the statute does say that you can put reasonable architectural standards on the installation of these chargers, but doesn't give any more guidance than that.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
One of the things with a certificate of insurance, and this applies to anytime the association desires to be an additional named insured, insurance companies have changed their policies. It used to be you got a certificate of insurance and in the bottom box, there was an indication from the agent that the association was now an additional named insured of the policy.
Several insurance companies are now requiring that there actually has to be an issued endorsement naming the association as an additional insured. Sometimes, the policyholder has to pay for that endorsement. If you're just getting a certificate without that endorsement, it may not qualify to make you an additional named insured, so ask for that endorsement also.
If you would turn the slide, I don't know if Jon or Michelle are controlling the slides. This is what ... Go back to the prior one just for a moment. This is the ... The prior one. Sorry. This is the statute that Cindy cited about there being an easement over the common elements. I want to talk about this for a moment because I'm not sure the legislature thought through this one.
The electrical service could be far afield from where the owner's residence is. Does this mean that an owner can bring a contractor in, do an open trench to create a new electrical line to bring the service over? We don't really know what the legislature intended with this, but there's going to be some interesting issues when somebody says that, "I'm entitled to have my own charging station. My meter won't support it, so I want to be able to utilize the association's electrical service in order to supply my personal charging station." How will that be charged for? All kinds of issues got created in the process, so big question mark.
Let me turn to my partner, Jon Lemole. Jon's going to talk about the installation of charging stations by the association itself and what happens with a homeowners association. Jon, take it away.Jon Lemole, Esq.:
All right, thanks. In condo land, there's a wholly separate subsection, subsection 9 in 718.113 that's different from the subsection that Cindy was talking about, and there's some key differences. Number one, it's much shorter, but there's some other very key differences.
What Cindy was discussing, 718.113 sub 8, and that's where a unit owner wants to install a charging station, you'll notice that the operative word there is that the association must allow the installation. However, by the time you get through all of the different requirements that the association could put on that allowing a unit owner to install their own charging station, it probably makes a lot of unit owners not want to install the charging station, and so what do they do?
I've seen some questions in the chat already. They come to the association and the board, and they say, "We want you, we want the association to fund and install charging stations on the common elements of the condominium." What governs that situation where a condo is being asked to do that? That's the separate subsection 9 of 718.113. I'm going to flip to the next slide because I've got the statute written here.
Let's look at some of the key distinctions between what Cindy discussed and this section of the law. The first big, noticeable exception is that where the association itself ... We're talking about condo associations here. Where a condominium association is being asked or is considering whether to install a charging station on common elements, the board may make that available. The board does not have an obligation to make that available. It's a may not a must.
You can certainly say, "We're not going to do it. You can do it, unit owner, but here's all the hoops you have to jump through." That may make it unpalatable to the unit owner, or the board can decide, "Well, we're going to do it, and let's look at the statute and what requirements are imposed in the statute if we choose to do that," if the board chooses to do that. There's really not a lot in this statute when it comes to the board choosing to install charging stations on condominium property.
The two biggies are that the association has the ability to establish the charges or the manner of payments for the unit owners, residents, or guests who use the charging station or natural gas fuel station. It covers both. The board is well within its rights to pass those costs on to the owners who actually use this facility.
I've seen some questions in the chat where they've been asking, "Well, does everybody have to pay for this?" At least according to the statute, the board can decide that it doesn't need to be assessed to all unit owners. It can be assessed to the unit owners who use the station. Now, how do you determine those costs? I guess, you've got to figure out who's using the charging station and then determine those assessments accordingly. Certainly, that number may go up and down as people have electric vehicles, get rid of electric vehicles, and more people buy electric vehicles. You're allowed to do that as the board of a condominium.
Now, Cindy touched on this very early in her presentation. Is the establishment of a charging station or a natural gas station, is that a material alteration? Because those of you in condo land know that a material alteration is a very difficult thing to do, typically. You need to get a lot of approval for it. Statutorily, there's a very high bar to approving material alternations. That may be changed in your declarations, but that usually requires a vote of the unit members.
In this case, the legislature has made it very clear, explicitly clear in the statute that if the board decides to install charging stations on condominium property, that is not a material alteration or a substantial addition to the condominium property, so takes it out of that area where you'd have to go and meet the approval requirements either by statute or by your governing documents.
The board can do this. They don't need to get widespread approval of it. They don't need to comply with the material alteration voting requirements, and they can distribute the payment, the cost of this among the unit owners who use it. At the end of the day, it's a may not a must, and the board can choose to do it or not to do it.
Now, I want to talk about HOAs. We've been spending a lot of time talking about condominiums, but in homeowners associations, as is the case with a lot of things with homeowners associations, there's much less statutory authority around what a homeowners association can do versus a condominium association. In this case, there is no provision, statutory provision that guides homeowners association on the issue of electric vehicle charging stations.
At the end of the day, a homeowners association is not required to allow an owner to install a charging station, but let's think this through. Let's suppose that your governing documents don't say anything regarding electric vehicles charging stations. Can an owner then construe that silence as the ability to do it? Well, arguably, they could after complying maybe with whatever architectural review standards the homeowners association may have in place.
This is a case where silence may not be a very good thing for a homeowners association. If your governing documents do not address this issue of lot owners wanting to install their own charging station, this might be a good time to review whether you want to put some requirements in there. Because if you don't do that then, arguably, a lot owner can do what they want. They may be able to comply with some minimal architectural review standards, but then it's solely up to them.
Here's what the difficulty is. As you saw in the condo statute, there's a concern about insurance. There's a concern about maintenance costs. There's a concern about indemnification of the association if that charging station causes damage. You can imagine a townhome situation where one of the connected lot owners decides to put a charging station in their garage and it causes damage to the building, and damage to the common areas of that building that the association may have some other duty and obligation to maintain.
If this stuff is not specified in the governing documents, that may not be an optimal situation for a homeowners association. You folks in HOA land have a lot of things to be concerned about, but this is certainly an area where if you're starting to get lot owners who are requesting this, you may want to bite the bullet here and start thinking about putting some language and restrictions into your governing documents about it.
Probably, the condo statute is a good place to look for what those restrictions might be because it's very well-specified. Insurance, maintenance costs, reimbursing the association for its increased insurance charges as a result of that.
Now, what if the homeowners association wants to install charging stations on common property or common areas? It can do that. It can do that by a board vote, so that's an area where the association can decide to do that as well in a homeowners association. Those are the two big differences, if you will, between a homeowners association and a condominium in terms of electric vehicle charging stations. Certainly, I know there's probably going to be a ton of questions about this in the chat, so we'll try to get to those at the end.
One of the things we didn't cover, I don't know if there's any co-op folks on here, but I heard Alan, earlier today, asking Cindy whether there was a statute addressing this in co-cops. I think the answer was no, Cindy?Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
There isn't. The co-op statute is silent.Jon Lemole, Esq.:
Okay, so similar to the HOA statute with regard to co-ops. With that, we're going to pass it back to Alan, and Alan is going to discuss the challenges, the practical challenges with installing and operating charging stations.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Jon, before we get off the last point, just to be clear, there are some HOA documents that restrict improvements to the property. Also, from a budgetary standpoint, some of them have limitations on what the association is able to spend on new improvements, so there could be some peculiarities in the CCRs of certain homeowners association that would not allow a board carte blanche to make, for instance, a $200,000 investment-Jon Lemole, Esq.:
Certainly, yeah.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
... for an improvement without some approval mechanism, but some documents do require that. Okay.Jon Lemole, Esq.:
Right.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Challenges with installing and operating charging stations. A lot of the concerns and questions in the chat are about these topics. Again, probably not well-thought-out by the legislature. Again, I don't think the industry has ... Their sales department has greatly exceeded both their maintenance and their safety departments, and there have been some horror stories around the country.
The first challenge, and I'm sure the folks who are not necessarily supportive of green energy will understand the irony of this, that in order for a charging station to operate, it obviously has to have electrical power. You're making use of the electrical grid to support something that is green energy in mind, which is electric vehicles.
Again, we're not going to get into a political debate, but it is a practical issue, which is even if a condominium or a homeowners association desires to create a community charging station, it does draw substantial electrical power and then creates a capacity issue. What we have found on the ground is some developers have installed very sufficient electrical systems that could support capacity greatly in excess or substantially in excess of the normal electrical load for the condominium or for a homeowners association, and some don't.
We have a property on Longboat Key where they're all identical buildings, six of them. For some reason, one of the buildings has a very substantial power capability relative to the other buildings. Well, no problem with the one building with substantial capacity installing a power station. Whereas, the building nextdoor, which is the same building, but for whatever reason, has insufficient capacity, they would have to substantially upgrade their power system in order to support a charging station. Maybe what needs to happen is the one condo needs to put the charging station on its common elements and allow the other buildings to utilize its charging station for a cost.
I don't know what the solution's going to be, but upgrading the power capacity of a building could be a difficult process. It's certainly an expensive process, so the first inquiry for any HOA or condo who was thinking about doing a community charging station is to do that investigation and study to determine what the requirements will be from an electrical power capacity for that particular charging station. It may impact how many different stations can exist. It's certainly something to be looked into because it could be quite expensive.
All right. Problem and challenge number two, getting the electrical service to the station. Again, there's all different kinds of configurations in HOAs, and condos, and co-ops about where the main power source is for the community, what kind of lines are running from it, what paths they're taking. In determining the location, even if you have sufficient electrical capacity, in determining the location, is it a location that's appropriate relative to getting the power supply to that particular area?
The irony is, you would think about it, that you would put the common charging station in an area of somewhat open space. Well, that may be an area that nobody ever planned electrical service to go into that location and you have to, either through open trench, which means maybe upsetting some asphalt or they have different jetting systems that can create, or can place electrical service without disturbing the ground, but of course, then you get into the issue of all the other utilities that might be in the area.
I was at a mobile home park in Largo yesterday, where one of the energy companies came in about 10 years ago, jetted a new electrical service to a large part of the mobile home community, and they didn't take into account that they were jetting at the same level as the sewage system, and the sewage piping for the project, in some cases, actually jetted right through the piping, causing some problems. If you're adding electrical service or do electrical lines, then you always have the issue of, "Are we now interfering with other services?" Potable water, or sewage has to be looked at. That's a challenge and certainly part of the cost.
One of the things that's interesting that we have determined with the companies that install charging stations, they don't want to be involved, most of the time, in bringing the electrical service to the charging station. They will recommend contractors who they're comfortable with who do that service, but it's typically not included, so they're requiring that the association separately contract with a contractor who's going to bring the electrical service to the station.
They want that electrical service there in sufficient capacity, properly done to support the charging station which they're going to install, but they generally take no responsibility, even when they're recommending that particular contractor, for getting that electrical service. He may end up contracting with a company you don't know, you have not dealt with, and there may be electric companies that are local that don't understand the peculiarities of charging stations and what type of electrical service to bring, what type of material to utilize. There is definitely going to be some confusion in that marketplace.
All right. Maintenance. There's studies that have been done in California, which by far has the most installed charging stations probably in the world per capita. The anecdotal stories out of California is that you're on the highway, you go to a charging station. There's eight different pieces of equipment, and there may be four or five of them that are down at any given time. There's a big problem with the companies keeping up with the maintenance of the charging stations.
I reviewed a contract for a condominium with one of the national companies and it said that if there's a problem with one of the charging stations, that within 24 hours, they will do a diagnosis on their software of what the potential problem is, and if they can fix it remotely, they will do so. The paragraph on maintenance ended there.
I went back to the company and I said, "What if it can't be fixed remotely?" They refused to include any language in the agreement that had any requirement at that point for them to be out within any particular time to do any particular operation on that charging station. All they could offer was that they won't charge for the service while that particular station is down. This maintenance is very difficult, and equipment is technical enough that you can't find a local contractor who's going to touch it.
In fact, the contracts that these national companies have put out around the country indicate that it has to be an approved vendor who actually does the maintenance, although, "We can't promise when that vendor is going to be out, how much they're going to charge, and we can't promise, if it defaults again, that we'll be out within any particular time to do anything."
Maintenance is a big issue. This is another problem with the fact that the companies have been out selling this equipment. They do a pretty good job of getting there within at least a matter of a few months to install the equipment, but once they leave your property, you're kind of on your own and at the whim of the industry as to when they're actually going to get there to maintain it. That's a big, big problem nationwide.
Okay. Insurance. You take all the horror stories, you take the cars having fires. Obviously, there is electrical charge in this equipment. They could be run into. They could be abused. They could be vandalized, and it creates a big insurance risk for associations who are installing this type of equipment, so it's really essential that you go to your insurance agent and determine what additional coverage that you would need to purchase to cover a charging station. It's an atypical risk. There may be a separate policy that you could purchase. Certainly, an endorsement that covers that type of equipment, because I'm sure that most policies, right off the bat, have exclusions that would cover the installation of a charging station in an HOA or a condo.
The thought that, "Well, we have property and liability insurance, so we have no concern," both property and liability insurance, of course, have a multitude of exclusions and exceptions. Sometimes, they have limitations on the amount of coverage that might apply to a particular situation. Really essential that you contact your agent and make sure that either through a separate policy or through an endorsement on your current policy that the specific installation is charged, that there is sufficient coverage that's going to apply to the risk involved.
Station abuse and damage. It's really a problem. They're very attractive pieces of equipment. You can have teenagers in your community who are making use. You have people who don't know how to use the equipment, and there's always the potential of abuse and damage. Anytime you have vehicles driving up to be charged, you have the possibility of the equipment being run into and a multitude of abuses, so you got to think of security cameras that are focused on the facility. You have to have rules and regulations in place that are very strict and holding anybody who causes damage to be accountable for that damage. There's a lot of thinking and policymaking that needs to go in.
Now, there is some great literature on this. One of the places that you can look is there's a lot of public facilities. In the public facilities, they have adopted rules and regulations. Some of the municipalities have charging stations for their employees, so there's literature online that, let's say for a municipality that has installed this type of equipment, what conditions do they put on their employees who want to use the facilities? There's a lot of good literature online that you could pull, but you got to do some thinking because, think about it. It's an unusual use.
If you have a clubhouse, you have standard rules and regulations about use, and so forth, but nobody's really operating any equipment, unless you're talking about a common coffee maker or something. This is a piece of equipment, it could be damaged, abused, and so forth, and there needs to be conditions imposed.
User claims. This is really where associations got to think about, in your documentation, including indemnification. Which, think of all the things that people can claim. "My car was damaged. While I was trying to pull in, somebody else was pulling in and there was an accident." "My car doesn't work anymore because I hooked it up to the association's equipment and after I was done using the equipment, my car wouldn't start, so it must have drained my battery."
All kinds of potential, and your documentation needs to say that, "Look, if you're utilizing this equipment, you're on your own. We are not representing that it's going to charge to any certain level, that it's going to be effective, that it's not going to cause damage to your vehicle." There should probably ... I'm going to get into signage next. There probably should be signage that makes it very clear where you pull in, and so forth. Striping, things like that should be considered so people are actually pulling in straight to the charging station. Thinking of some sort of barriers between the parking bumper and the station itself, something to be considered.
The documentation that somebody is going to use it, they should be indemnified, the association, and releasing the association from any claims having to do with the capacity or the operation of the equipment. Signage, I talked about. Again, there's probably online, you could probably find, look up charging station signage, and there'll be a municipality or a public facility where they have an excellent set of signage. Sometimes, signage has to be pretty obvious, stating the obvious.
All right. This next part, which is passing the cost of installation and use on to the users. The companies that either lease or sell this equipment, as an additional profit center they also, they handle the accounting and the charges associated with the equipment. Some groups, rather than trying to account for all of this themselves, may want to, as an adjunct to their contract with either leasing or buying thee equipment, also buying the accounting package that the company sells.
They will actually take care of signing up all the users, assessing the appropriate charges, the rate charges, and so forth. It's a mechanism of including all the development charges in the cost so it's passed on to the users. I don't think any of the management companies are really jumping at the prospect of being the ones who set up the accounting for this type of equipment, so probably will default to utilizing the companies that regularly charge for this.
Again, there's a lot of good online research for how to charge, how to set up accounts, so that it really doesn't become the association's business. It really happens automatically that someone, in order to access the equipment, has to put in a particular code. The company somewhere records that usage, and has an arrangement with your management company or directly with the user to pass on the cost of the operation. That's, I believe, how most groups will be going, utilizing the accounting and software programs of the installation and leasing companies that lease the equipment.
The last point on user agreements. It's a really good idea that for anybody who's going to be utilizing the equipment that the association have a written document that they have to sign off on. Could be an online sign-off, but they have to sign off on that. If they're going to be utilizing the equipment, this is what the unit owner, or the lot owner in an HOA, or their guest have to agree to.
Now, that raises a question of whether you should even allow guests to utilize the equipment. There would probably, a pretty strong argument that the use of the equipment should be limited to owners and their tenants who have, before use, signed onto a written user agreement that binds them and that will have all the conditions of use, and the mechanism for charging for the facility, their agreements for indemnifying the association, and so forth.
I think the idea of associations opening up their equipment for use by the general public is a bad idea. I think even guests, it would be a bad idea. There may be certain type of guests. Potentially, if somebody's having a prolonged stay as a guest to the unit, maybe they can be made an exception for, but leaving the agreement or the use to owners and their tenants probably makes sense with a written user agreement.
Again, the agreements are online. You can check out a bunch of municipalities. Again, if an employee wants to use the municipality's charging station, there are user agreements that municipalities have adopted. Run it by your general counsel because there may be some things you need to ... Florida law, either in the Condo or HOA Act that have to be incorporated. There are prevailing party attorneys' fees, the venue for disputes. That would all have to be locally determined.
Let's look at some questions. I don't know, Jon and Cindy, while I've been talking, whether, hopefully, you've been glancing over the questions in chat, but if there's anything in particular that you want to take on, go ahead.Cindy Hill, Esq.:
I have been trying to respond to answers in chat. There's been a lot of questions about people just plugging their ... Or unit owners I should say, plugging their electric vehicle stations into standard plugs either in a garage or a common element parking area. I'd advise that concerns about, electrical concerns need an electrician, but if they are plugging-in in a parking lot, those unit owners are using common element electricity for a purpose it was not intended. I would suggest that those associations with a concern like that consult their general counsel for some rules or prohibitions to put an end to that because that is not an appropriate use.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
All right. Anne says, "Great moneymaker," which is possible. Well, there's no restriction on what the association can charge for the use. There's nothing in the statute for condos that says that the charges have to be for actual use. Therefore, associations can pick up the development cost, the cost of bringing the electrical service to the charging station. There, in theory, could be a profit on top of that. I don't know, Cindy, if you have a thought about the taxable basis for anything that's greater than the cost coverage.Cindy Hill, Esq.:
That's a really tricky subject. The Condominium Act is not intended to be a moneymaking endeavor, so where there have been, for instance, laundromats, vending machines, events in the past where associations tried to make some extra money, so to speak, the Division of Condominiums has come down pretty hard on that.
I would not advise at all pursuing that option without consulting with general counsel, because once you get down a path and then find out maybe you can't, as an association, do that act, you will have spent, arguably, more money finding that out, and then have to back up and lose more money. I highly recommend, anyone on here who's considering that, get with your general counsel before you pursue that option because that's a lot more tricky than you would think.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
All right. Steven has a recommendation of a particular company that he's liked. You can look at that in chat.Cindy Hill, Esq.:
Oh, good. Right. Yeah, I did see a question about recommendations for electricians. I don't have a list of that, but I did say we'd try to come up with some folks that have been used by some of our clients.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Well, the companies generally will recommend approved electricians in their market. Again, I don't know if they are remunerated for those referrals or not. What they'll tell you is, "We're recommending this company because our clients have had good experience with them. We can coordinate the schedule," and so forth, but you'll have to consider if in fact it would be better to go with a local company.
I don't know, and I haven't had conversations with the power companies about what their thoughts are, because they have capacity issues too. They may have something to say. I have not seen the power companies in our area, Duke Energy or FPL state their yay or nay on the idea of charging stations being installed and how it might impact. I don't think they're a huge draw on energy, so it probably wouldn't be sufficient. I see Michelle is putting out an evaluation form. I see a couple of companies are being mentioned in the chat. Anybody can make it. There's a term I haven't heard in a while, meter maid. Somebody's dating themselves.Jon Lemole, Esq.:
The point is, it brings up a good point though. The issue is cars staying, folks leaving their cars at the charging station beyond when the charging is complete. There's really two issues. I think the charging ... The company that manages the charge and the billing for it can charge penalty fees for being hooked up to the charter past the vehicle being fully charged, but that doesn't solve the problem of, what do you do when the person comes down and unhooks the vehicle and still leaves it parked in the charging station parking spot?
I don't know that there's a very easy answer for that, except other than if you have a towing policy, then if that vehicle's parked there and not charged into the charging station, you tow it. I don't know that there's a more ready answer than that.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Yeah, and I think, Jon, I think with the subject of security cameras that it would be a really good idea for multiple reasons, including to see if somebody's overstaying their stay, to have security cameras that's recording the use of the equipment. Would pick up vandalism, would pick up cars that are overstaying their use. If there happened to be a dispute between two different users, you would have some photo documentation of that.
Probably for groups that do have the capability of upgrading their security camera system, if they do install these, it would probably be a good place. Because, again, it's the unusual fact that this equipment operated by owners that's either owned or leased by the association and is unlike any other use that you might have considered with HOAs. Again, there's recreation use. There may be a kitchen, but this is a pretty unusual use. Legislature has-Cindy Hill, Esq.:
I would add ...Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
Yes, go ahead.Cindy Hill, Esq.:
I would add to that that a lot of gated communities have cameras at their gates, particularly the gates that are, let's say the back entry gates that are just your arm gates, for the same reason that when the gates get damaged, they have video footage and they can try to determine who caused the damage and bill them accordingly. In that sense, the charging stations wouldn't really be any different, viewing them in terms of watching for damage on that issue.Alan Tannenbaum, Esq.:
All right. Just some technical issues that are well beyond our expertise that are being asked about. At this juncture, we're going to conclude. We will look at some of the answers in chat. I think what we'll consider is that in a future session, we will bring in some technical experts, maybe electricians, maybe a representative of one of the companies, maybe a local official, and have an additional segment where some of the technical issues can be discussed.
We'll put it out there that in a few months, we'll come back and cover the subject from a more technical standpoint. Until then, we look forward to seeing you next month. Thank you for your participating. Any of the managers, be sure to be in touch with Michelle if you have any questions about getting your CEU credit for today. Our program will be on our website. The video and a transcript will be on our website, hopefully, within a week, and so you or your board members can then make access to it. Everybody have a great day. Thank you again.Jon Lemole, Esq.:
Thank you, everyone.