Purchasing an Electric Vehicle While Living in a Condominium: Be Sure to Plan Ahead!

This article first appeared in French in the Summer 2017 edition of the magazine Copropriété Plus. 

If you are planning on buying an electric vehicle and live in a condominium with a parking space, you will probably want to install a charging station in the building’s parking area. In order to do so however, you will need to undertake certain steps with your building’s co-ownership syndicate. Most declarations of co-ownership contain no specific provisions allowing a co-owner to install a charging station in the building’s common parking area, nor do they specify the related terms, conditions and cost-sharing mechanism involved. The co-owners must therefore refer to the applicable provisions of the Civil Code of Québec, which unfortunately do not specifically address this situation.

Parking areas in condominium buildings are generally located in common portions of the building, and are characterized as being for restricted use when specific co-owners have paid for exclusive use and enjoyment of the spaces.  

The Civil Code of Québec provides that if a co-owner wishes to carry out work for the alteration, enlargement or improvement of a common portion of the condominium building, the work must be approved by a majority of co-owners representing three quarters of the votes of all the co-owners, proportionate to the relative value of their respective fractions of co-ownership.

This super majority vote means that a co-owner will have to gain the support of the vast majority of the co-owners in order to obtain authorization to install a charging station adjacent to a parking spot. The best way to achieve this threshold is to make certain verifications before purchasing an electric vehicle. For example, are any of the other co-owners in the same situation, enabling the submission of a joint proposal? What is the extent of the work required, and the cost to complete the work, other than the cost of the charging station itself? Does the building’s electrical wiring extend to the exclusive parking space(s) concerned or will work be required in that regard? Does the building have one or more electricity meters to keep track of the electricity used for charging the vehicle(s), and how will that electricity be billed to the vehicle owner(s)?

Most co-owners are able to reach a satisfactory agreement with the co-ownership syndicate without complication. However, every condominium property is unique in regards to both the structure of the building and the personal characteristics of the co-owners living in it. Until the legislation is specifically adapted to electric vehicles, the installation of charging stations will require planning and cooperation among co-owners.

We wish you the best of luck in your approach!

Thanks to Pierre-Luc Desgagné, a partner at Langlois lawyers, for his contribution to the preparation of this article.

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