Electric vehicle charging points at your block – have you got a plan?

With the UK government committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging points is an increasingly hot topic for flat owners.

Colin Hussey sets out the key considerations for freeholders, RMCs and their managing agents.

2030 may seem like a long way off, but it’ll be upon us before we know it.

The electric car market is growing rapidly and with it the demand for more convenient and accessible charging.  Indeed, stats at the end of March 2021 indicated that the UK had more than 235,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of March 2021 – and almost half a million plug-in models including plug-in hybrids.

With this growth in electric vehicle ownership comes the likelihood that you are starting to have leaseholders enquiring about your plans for installing charging facilities.  What do you need to consider if a leaseholder requests EV charging facilities at your block?

Where should the charging points be installed – and who pays?

As with most things property management related, the starting point is the lease. Freeholders, RMCs and their managing agents will firstly need to review the lease to establish who owns the space where the charging point needs to be installed.  The lease will also set out whether or not the work needs the leaseholder to apply for a Licence to Alter.

If parking spaces are allocated to each flat, is this an informal allocation or are they demised to the property (eg: part of the legal ownership and registered at the Land Registry)?  If the latter is the case, and the parking space is demised to the property, then the leaseholder should be able to apply for an Electric Vehicle Home-charge Scheme (EVHS) grant of up to 75% of the cost.

If your development has communal parking facilities with spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis then you could initiate a major works consultation under the section 20c process, with a view to installing a shared EV charging facility and recovering the costs through the service charge.

Timing of this will be key; charging points can cost around £2,000 to install and you are likely to have leaseholders unwilling to contribute towards the costs of powering up the early adopters in the block! Those of us long enough in the tooth however will remember similar conversations around satellite dishes and broadband connections before they became not just expected, but essential.

Who pays for the power?

This is one of the practical hurdles in installing EV charging points in leasehold properties – how to allocate the power used.  Apportioning the cost of the electricity in shared EV parking facilities across the properties is unlikely to be viewed as fair or reasonable.  Even if properties have their own parking space, it’s unlikely that the electricity supply to Flat 6’s parking space is linked to Flat 6’s smart meter for example.

Unless the electricity connection between the charging point and the property is clear cut, you may need to consider one of the ‘pay as you go’ type systems, similar to those found in public spaces such as car parks and supermarkets. These allow power usage to be charged back to the leaseholder’s property.

Be proactive to avoid a piecemeal approach

Whilst new leasehold developments are generally being fitted with charging points as standard, retro fitting EV charging units to existing residential developments takes a bit more consideration – but requests can’t be ignored.  As electric car ownership continues on its upward trajectory, people will need to be able to charge their vehicles at home.

We would encourage freeholders, RMCs and their managing agents to take control and have a plan for EV charging, with a clear policy for how you will respond to leaseholder requests.  The alternative is frustrated leaseholders taking action into their own hands, with leads dangling out of windows and the risk of power overloads for the block.

For help or advice on understanding your lease and planning an effective EV charging approach, please do get in touch.

More reading / useful links

ARMA Advice Note

Deacon Insurance EV charging for flats

Future Fuel

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