As road users embark along the Road to Zero, electric vehicle charging is likely to become a common feature in our infrastructure. That can be both a challenge and an opportunity for owners and managers of blocks of leasehold flats, and you may want to start planning ahead now.
Just like broadband and cable TV infrastructure before them, electric vehicle charging points (EVCPs) are likely to become the norm and an asset for the building. It’s something you might want to plan and control as a group, rather than having it happen piecemeal.
There’s not that much time left, either. The date on which it will become illegal to sell new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars has been brought forward to 2030. The Government is to introduce regulations to ensure new residential properties with associated car parking spaces have electric vehicle charge points.
Any new building (or an existing building undergoing “major renovations”) with more than 10 car parking spaces will be required to have an EVCP and EV charging cables routes ready for every parking spaces – charging facilities will be the norm. Can you afford to get left behind?
What happens if the freeholders or residents management company don’t take control of the situation? In a worst case scenario you may have leads trailing out of lower floor windows.
Or you might have multiple leaseholders applying for licences to alter so they can install individual fast chargers without intelligent load balancing, risking a power overload for the whole building.
They may be tempted by the government grant, because if a flat has a parking space/garage that is legally dedicated to the resident’s flat, then the owner may qualify for an Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) grant of up to 75% of the cost, up to £350. This applies for EVCPS installed on or after the 1st of April 2020 and is subject to the leaseholder obtaining any necessary third party permissions (such as from the freeholder or managing agent of the flats).
The logical answer may be for the block to grasp the nettle and take control of the way EV charging is provided – this need not deprive eligible applicants of their grants.
First you need to decide if it is worthwhile for you and your neighbours. Will it:
- meet the needs of residents who own an electric vehicle now suffice or be scalable for future requirements?
- make a property more attractive to potential buyers and renters?
- create an income stream for the block?
Key points to consider when choosing electric vehicle charging points (EVCPs) are:
- What speed of charge will residents require? Do they just need to charge up overnight, or will a faster speed of charge be required? If so, how fast? Do consult before you commit!
- Do you wish to offer charging for free, for a flat fee for users, or would it be fairer to record the cost of the electricity each resident uses, so you can bill them at the end of each week/month? Do you want to make a small profit for the joint benefit of all residents?
- Can you control access to the building’s car park? If not, access controls on the electric vehicle charge points (EVCPs) may be required (App controlled solutions are now commonplace).
- How will you and prevent your charging stations from exceeding your building’s power capacity? Will you need to specify equipment capable of smart load balancing to optimally distribute the available power capacity to each active EVCP?
You may, though, find that the power supply to your building is a determining factor.
Units are rated at 3kW, and a full charge could take as long as 12 hours, but most likely 6-7 hours. These are found at home and the workplace and can run off a regular 13A socket.
A 7kW charger will usually recharge an EV in 3-5 hours, while a 22kW unit could complete the task in a couple of hours. You’ll find them in supermarket car parks, shopping centres or anywhere an electric car can be left for an extended period. They will work with 16A or 32A single-phase electrical supplies.
A rapid charger rated at anything from 11kW to 120 KW with charge times from 55mins to 10 mins although there are doubts about how good fast charging is for batteries. For this you will need 32A or 60A 3-phase power supply (the ultra-rapid chargers require DC supply, which is not used in homes).
An overarching consideration on how to charge will be whether the lease allows for new costs to be added to service charges, although if EVCPs create an income stream, everyone could benefit.
If you decided to bill residents for using the points, would you want to just recover the cost of the electricity used? Would you seek to recover the capital costs of installation and over what period? Will you need to undertake major works consultation (Section 20) for capital expenditure? Would a leasing arrangement suit and would it make financial sense long term?
Undoubtedly all of these issues can be resolved between the leaseholders and, once you have agreement in principle, you can look at the detail of what sort of equipment is suitable for you. There are various options, and the technology is fast moving.
First published October 2020 (FP854-2020)
The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Deacon accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.