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Electric Vehicles, are you prepared?

In October 2021, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor released a plan to deliver Australia’s target of net zero emissions by 2050. Electric vehicles are tipped be a major part of Australia’s move towards sustainability, with most car manufacturers expected to shift to manufacturing electric vehicles over the coming decade.

For strata communities, the trend towards electric vehicles will pose a range of pressing questions. We share a few words of advice for committees to prepare for this widespread change.

Electric Vehicles & Strata

The anticipated influx of electric vehicles in Australia’s future raises a range of new questions for strata managers, like who pays for new charging station installs and the ongoing costs, such as usage charges, maintenance, and insurance?

It will also impact on building design, whereby new strata-titled buildings will need to cater for charging stations and old buildings will need to be retrofitted. Colin and Jason share their perspectives:

  • The biggest challenge is space – most developments weren’t designed and built thinking they need to set aside a few car spaces for EV charging stations, so they must be retrofitted in a development that may already be tight.
  • Another big challenge is use – it’s likely most strata communities will have more EVs than charging stations, making it a “first-in, best dressed” scenario to charge vehicles overnight. Visitor car parking spaces often have time limits for good reason.
  • Usage costs – most lot owners view EV charging stations as a privilege that only EV owners should pay for. At present, running costs and costs for repairs and maintenance are usually passed onto individuals under by-laws and / or as conditions of authorising an improvement to the common property. However, a common approach is that the power to charge would be drawn from the common property lines, meaning all lot owners contribute to the cost of recharging one person’s vehicle. This may be viewed as the swings and roundabouts of community living. For decades, it has been a base expectation that an apartment building in Australia will have a pool. But we rarely hear people voicing concerns about having to contribute to the cost of a common area, like a pool, that requires significant energy all because they aren’t a regular swimmer. With the expected rise in EV ownership, charging stations will become a similar expectation.
  • Broad adoption – with car manufacturers predicted to switch to EVs by 2030, EV charging stations may be a feature of a development that becomes a selling point, attracting buyers towards the development knowing it’s a shared luxury they could enjoy. By way of example, not everyone in a building will use the spa or sauna regularly, but everyone contributes towards it as a common expense because the use of these facilities is a common entitlement.
  • EV owners – on the flipside, if a buyer in the market drives an EV, they may disregard units in developments that aren’t set up to accommodate EVs yet, which decreases the pool of available buyers, or could even lead to reduced offers as these buyers must factor in the costs of establishing a charging station in the unit’s car space.
  • In NSW, a new provision, section 132B, allows a lower level of consent to approve sustainability infrastructure, basically 50%. Owners’ corporations need to consider these new provisions. Greater sustainability measures were introduced into QLD in 2010, which we previously wrote about here.

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

This article was contributed by Colin Grace and Jason Carlson, Partners – Grace Lawyers

Leave a Reply

  1. Cameron McCall

    I think this really looking for problems that are not necessary. It’s pretty simple the body corporate upgrades (if required) any common infrastructure ie..switchboard etc. then the owner is responsible to bring the power and install the EV charging point in the car space with a meter. I don’t think it’s rocket science. Any building with multiple lifts has sufficient power coming into the building so any upgrades would be limited to switchboards. Buildings should not be installing common charging points.

  2. Les Campbell

    Thank you for the article. Could I suggest that you also mention the fire risk. In particular, will insurance companies still cover buildings that have EV’s parked underground? In some countries in Europe EV’s are banned from underground car parks because of the fire risk.
    We are certainly in for some interesting times ahead.
    Les Campbell
    Automotive Leading Vocational Teacher (Ret), SAE, IAME, Ba Adult and Vocational Ed.

  3. Phil Maris

    All fitment of charging stations be the responsibility of the individual owner ie costs and additional insurance and all approvals for its location and aesthetics etc must come from the Body Corporate Executive .
    Because of the propensity for some batteries to explode , that all should be taken into its location as being safe and away from the building and other cars .

  4. kerry read

    We don’t provide petrol pumps so why should we be obliged to provide charging stations?

  5. David Horrocks

    Love it,
    This is only bettered by the situation in UK where so much housing stock has no on site garaging and minimal house street frontage where ‘charging’ can be done. On a recent TV enquiry panel it was pointed out to the relevant government spokesperson that it is against the law to run 240 volt cables across public footpaths. His response was that charging points with underground electrical supply would have to be installed in all areas. Someone on the panel asked ‘who will pay for all this’ – total silence ensued.

  6. Ray O"Rourke

    Thanks for the article. I am of the view that each owner should establish individual charging points in their allocated car space/s.
    This would not be at a prohibitive cost where the individual electricity meters are close by to the car parks.
    Our building does not employ an onsite manager and the Committee is virtually responsible for such duties normally carried out by property managers.
    To expect a Committee to issue accounts for electricity used to individuals charging their MV’s would be a big ask.
    The decision to purchase an electric vehicle is one of choice and to compare it to owners using of a swimming pool is not really the same choice as the pool is already in-situ when the owners buy into a complex. If they did not want to buy into a complex with a pool or gym etc., then that is their choice. To burden all owners with the cost of establishing a common charging station/s after they have already purchased a Unit, is not really the same choice as it would be an additional facility after the event.
    I firmly believe that owners residing in a building without such charging stations should be expected to install them at their own cost and that the charging outlet should be installed in their own allocated car spaces. The power source should come from their own metered supply.

  7. Ann

    NSW Government has been a lot more pro-active providing significant information about EV charging in Unit blocks.

    The Qld government has provided no information, obviously has no plan to assist Strata residential buildings to deal with this issue.
    At least we can look at the NSW information, ‘a building is a building’ regardless of where it is?
    the issue is one off as hoc individual installations will not work in the long run as it could compromise the building power, this is even more concerning with a BMG situation where utilites are ‘shared’ and commercial retail will require EV chargers as well.
    SCA should be lobbying the Qld Government. I won’t hold my breath for the Qld Gov’t to assist Strata, when we are stuck with 25 year management agreements !!

  8. Ken Gordon

    In my Body Corporate Levies I pay for the pool, therefore I am able to use it, I pay for the GYM and I am able to use it, does it not stand to reason that if I have to pay for an EV filling station, then I should be able to use any and all of the other residents cars that use this facility, more food for thought!!!!!

  9. Selwyn Lutz

    Strata managers should be taking up this matter up with government and all councils in Queensland so that all future strata buildings are built to accommodate the charging of EVs.
    Don’t leave it another day as the mess that we currently have is not allowed to continue.

  10. Phil

    It’s envitable that stata complexes will have to install EV charging points at some point in time and in many complexes this isn’t going to be a simple or cheap. Every lot owner doesn’t need their own charging point, just like every lot owner doesn’t need a petrol bowser.
    Another alternative is for the body corporate to install charging points (in current visitor parking spots) and implement one of the available user pay charging stations. These stations use an app or QR code to activate and pay for the engery used. Many also include a time based charge to prevent overstays. The body corporate can recuperate their costs over time and perhaps even create a revenue stream.
    The body corpoartes in larger complexes or cbd locations maybe able to partner with an EV charging platform where the body corporate provides the space and the EV partner does the rest.

  11. phill

    As an EV owner for 5 years I feel the need to comment.

    Within 10 years it will be nearly impossible to buy a new petrol car. Not because of AU requirements, but because of European, Chinese, USA etc requirements. AU accounts for less than 1.5% of new car sales worldwide. There is not 1 major car manufacturer doing any R&D on petrol engine.

    Already in the EU, EV’s account for around 17% of sales, China 13%. Worldwide nearly 10%

    Every body corporate needs to be planning now how a unit owners can put in charging facilities today. Not on the basis of 1 or 2 spots, but on the basis of the unit owner putting it in their bay, at their cost to install and their electricity cost.

    Future values will depend on it. Rental rates will be influenced by it.

    A couple of other comments

    * Cars catch on fire too – The EV risk or insurance issue has never entered my or my insurer’s mind.
    * I charge using off peak power and that cost is about $50 a month for 2,000km/month. (up to $150 if not off peak). This is not a cost that fellow BC members will want to pay for me.
    * I get the spa analogy, however, I am capable of using the spa it is just my choice not too. A petrol car has no option to “plug in” and I don’t want to pay for their petrol for the number of Km’s they do or don’t drive.

    PS I personally think that hydrogen cars (using green hydrogen) should be they way of the future, but that’s another debate

  12. John Punch

    We try and apply logic and laws to what is a crazy and illogical mess.I understand that there just is not any chance of even giving any large size building the electric power supply to charge a large number of cars rapidly- for instance Docklands in Melbourne just can’t distribute enough electricity for this purpose due to the infrastructure demands unable to be provided!
    So, apart from on all the on street parking being unconnectable, our BC regulated buildings are unlikely to have a supply of electricity to ever charge all the owners cars, no matter who pays or what is the cost!
    A crazy world, I feel

  13. Barbara

    Following our AGM our BC is committed to installing a basement EV system for our 200 unit complex. All units will pay approximately $200 a year over ten years to pay for this. Then individual units can pay $3000 -$5000 to have their individual connections off the system. This adds value to their own unit. Prices may vary as costs change but this is the general idea.

  14. Brendon Davis

    Phil and Barbara are on the right track. I’m an EV owner too in a unit complex who are installing a dual shared EV charing station. Time will tell how our already 4 out of 140 units with an EV share this but I fully expect the demand to increase.

    Think of an EV like your phone, they normally get plugged in each night to trickle charge up to 100% for the next days use and if you use the device heavily on occasion you stop into a fast-charger. When I first purchased my unit the builder refused to allow me to install an individual wall charger because the building supply cannot handle the uncontrolled draw of potentially tens of cars. By using the shared dedicated stations we can control this oversuppy and yes – we use an app to pay for the power we draw.

    Much like you don’t see a horse drawn cart or even ledded petrol around, petrol stations will go the way of the home telephone in time. It makes sense to prepare now because sooner or later we’ll all be wanting to charge.