Originally published WB’s Q4 – 2018 Condo Connection Newsletter
By Jeff Lack, BAcc, CPA, CGA
Vice President – Communications & Administration | Wilson, Blanchard Management Inc.
Recent changes to the Condominium Act regulations make it easier for both Boards and owners to proceed with installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in condominium communities. However, increasing the presence of electric vehicles in condos still comes with challenges such as whether existing electrical systems can support high-voltage charging stations.
The new regulations (which amend O.Reg 48/01) mean that condo corporations wishing to install EV charging stations are exempt from section 97 of the Act provided certain conditions are met. Likewise, owners wishing to initiate an installation are exempt from section 98 of the Act so long as certain conditions are met. The two aforementioned sections contain provisions related to additions, alterations or changes to the common elements by a corporation or an owner respectively.
There are two ways a corporation can gain exemption from section 97; the first is if:
- The cost of installing the EV charging station(s) is less than 10% of the budgeted common expenses, AND
- There is NO material reduction or elimination of use or enjoyment to the owners of the units that they own or the common elements / assets of the corporation.
If these conditions are met, the corporation must send notice to the owners (containing information prescribed in the regulations) 60 days in advance of the installation in order to proceed and be exempt from section 97. Under this first set of circumstances, owners would not be permitted to requisition a meeting to vote against the installation.
In the second scenario, a meeting can be requisitioned by owners to oppose installation, if:
- The cost of installing the EV charging stations is more than 10% of the budgeted common expenses, AND / OR
- There IS expected to be a material reduction or elimination of use or enjoyment to the owners of the units that they own or the common elements / assets of the corporation.
A corporation can still gain exemption from section 97 and proceed with installation of the EV charging stations by sending notice to the owners 60 days in advance (again, containing the information prescribed in the regulations, including advising the owners of their right to requisition a meeting) if:
- The owners either do not requisition a meeting to vote against the installation, OR
- Do requisition a meeting but do not vote against the installation.
For owners, there are two steps (rather than two ways) to gain exemption from section 98 of the Act and proceed with the installation of an EV charging station.
Step 1 is an application process. An owner must send an application to the condo corporation including installation specifications, drawings and the proposed location of the charging station. While the cost of preparing these items is the owners’ responsibility, the corporation must cooperate in providing the owner – at the corporation’s cost – with any permissions, information, or authorizations required to prepare the application.
Once the application is received, the Board must respond within 60 days and may only reject the application if:
- The installation would contravene the Condo Act or the Electrical Safety Code, OR
- Would adversely affect the structural integrity of the property or the corporation’s assets, OR
- Would pose serious health or safety risks or a risk of damage to the property or corporation’s assets.
There are two items of interest to note regarding the reasons for rejecting an application:
- The application cannot be rejected for contravening the Declaration, By-Laws or rules of the corporation, only for contravening the Condo Act or ESA, and
- Any rejection must be based on expert opinion, for example an engineer’s report or legal opinion.
The Board may, in the process of accepting the application, propose that installation take place in an alternative manner or location, however the alternatives can only be proposed if they would not cause the owner to incur unreasonable additional costs.
Step 2 of the process is for the owner and the corporation to enter into an Agreement for Installation, which must be done within 90 days if the application is not rejected or withdrawn by the owner. Note that the terminology is “not rejected”, which appears to imply that a corporation that sits idly by and does not respond to an owner’s application will be deemed to have accepted the application by not rejecting it.
The Agreement for Installation (which essentially replaces a Section 98 agreement) must be registered on title and must specify who (the owner or the corporation) will be responsible for each aspect of the project. In most cases, it is expected that the owner submitting the application will be responsible for the installation costs, but this can be negotiated along with the other terms of the agreement. It should also be noted that the corporation can recover any costs, charges, interest and expenses related to the owner’s failure to comply with the Agreement for Installation, now or in the future.
Corporations and owners need to keep in mind that installing EV charging stations is not as simple as putting in an outlet and running a wire to the electrical box. Electrical capacity may impede installation at certain sites as capacity varies from building-to-building. In addition, inadequate space in a building’s electrical room for new infrastructure or the lack of capacity at the transformer station supplying the building’s electricity can also cause constraints. With this in mind, corporations may wish to undertake electrical audits to understand the capacity to handle EV charging systems.
Mediation & Arbitration
Lastly, any disagreement between the corporation and the owner with respect to the proposed installation of a charging station is subject to mandatory mediation and arbitration. Any disagreement not submitted by an owner to mediation or arbitration within 6 months will result in the owner’s application being deemed as abandoned.