New Regulations Will Arrive on May 1st Respecting Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condominiums

As electric vehicles become more prominent on our roads, demand for charging stations in condominiums will undoubtedly increase. We are now seeing more and more new condominiums with dedicated electric vehicle charging stations. But what about existing condominiums? Continue reading “New Regulations Will Arrive on May 1st Respecting Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Condominiums”

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Electric Cars and Charging Stations in Condominiums

Electric cars, and charging stations, are a hot topic this week!  Britain has announced the eventual ban of gas and diesel powered vehicles, and an Ottawa condo is making national news  (click on the video entitled:  Ottawa Woman’s Power Struggle to Charge Electric Car at Condo Building) about whether or not an owner can, or should be, entitled to charge an electric car. 

In light of all the commentary, we wanted to chime in with our thoughts!

There is no easy, or one size fits all, solution to the question of whether or not an owner, or multiple owners, or all owners, can, or are able, to charge electric cars on the condominium property. 

As was recently stated by one of our lawyers during an interview,  (click on the above-stated video), the collective should work together to find out what is possible, and makes sense, in any given situation – always bearing in mind the applicability of the governing documents in any given case. In another interview, one of our lawyers also explained that many condo boards never imagined having to accommodate electric vehicles, and that infrastructure may be a physical barrier to this type of arrangement.

In some condominiums, the existing infrastructure will not support individual, or multiple, charging stations.  In most of these cases, in order to change the existing infrastructure, a vote of at least 66 2/3% of all owners may be required.  In such cases, until the vote occurs and the infrastructure is updated to accommodate the actual or potential use, individuals will simply be unable to charge their electric cars.

In other condominiums, even if the infrastructure can support the use, where it is a common expense, it may be necessary to install individual metering to ensure that all owners are not paying for the cost of those individuals wishing to charge their electric cars on site.

In many cases, a condominium’s governing documents would simply not have contemplated the advent of electric vehicles.  As a result, in both of these examples, the condominium’s governing documents (the Declaration, By-Laws or Rules) may also need to be amended to reflect this new use of the common elements and/or common services.

In some more recently built condominiums, the issue is moot.  In these condominiums, this type of use has been anticipated, and either individual or shared charging stations have been integrated into the build.  In these situations, we generally see that the use is also regulated and addressed in the governing documents.

The bottom line is that each particular case needs to be carefully reviewed and considered, both from a practical (i.e. infrastructure) and legal (i.e. governing documents) perspective. 

We have worked with many condominium corporations faced with these difficult issues, and have found, in all cases, that there is a desire to investigate and explore the options available to address the interests and needs of all in the community.  However, even if the desire exists at the Board and Management level, the implementation of any particular proposed solution will often go beyond the jurisdiction and authority of the Board and Management, and may require the involvement of all owners.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News for more blogs about current and important issues faced by condominium corporations.

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Using a By-law to Control Parking

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court confirmed the validity of a condominium’s by-law, which was passed to control parking on the common elements. See the case of Cheung v. York Region Condominium Corporation No. 759.

Here’s my summary of the court decision, from Condo Cases Across Canada (which I author for quarterly publication by the Canadian Condominium Institute).

The condominium’s parking was not originally allocated to any of the units. The condominium corporation passed a by-law to authorize the corporation to lease four common element parking spots (per unit) to each owner.

One of the owners had leased three units to a restaurant operator. That owner asserted that the restaurant should be entitled to make greater use of the parking (particularly during the restaurant’s busy times), in part to satisfy the applicable zoning requirements. That owner asserted that the by-law was unreasonable, oppressive and outside the corporation’s authority.

The Court disagreed, and ruled that the by-law was valid and enforceable. The Court said:

“I understand that Ms. Cheung had an expectation that her tenant would be able to use “all” the shared parking spots. That had been the situation prior to 2009. Her material is replete with assertions that for many years parking had been on a “first come, first served” basis. First come, first served appears to mean, in practice (and in Ms. Cheung’s expectation) that the patrons of the restaurant could use every single un-allocated parking spot. That, of course, is not a legitimate or a reasonable expectation. Indeed, it is what led to the parking problems in the first place.

Ms. Cheung’s real complaint, with respect, is not that the Board treated her differently from the other owners. [Her] real complaint is that the Board did not treat her differently from the other owners. In essence, Ms. Cheung says that the board has acted unfairly and oppressively by taking away her special extra parking privileges. That is no basis upon which to grant a remedy.”

I understand that this decision is under appeal – so there may yet be more to this story.

However, the moral of the story, up to this point, is as follows: in cases where parking was never allocated to the owners under the terms of the Declaration, a by-law may be the answer!

For more information about by-laws and common element parking spots, contact us.

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Parking Units and Exclusive-Use Parking – What’s the Difference?

One of the areas that we notice that causes some confusion for condominium owners is the difference between parking units and common elements parking spaces, also called exclusive-use parking.

The primary difference between the two different types of parking is that parking units have their own separate legal title and are legally owned by the owner of the space, who will in most instances also own a dwelling unit in the condominium. This means that the owner of the parking unit can sell the parking space separately from the dwelling unit, subject to any restrictions in the condominium corporation’s governing documents. This also means that there is normally no specific allocation of parking spaces to each dwelling unit, as owners are often free to transfer their parking unit to another unit owner in the condominium.

For exclusive-use parking spaces, each parking space does not have its own separate legal title, and is part of the common elements. These parking spaces may be specifically allocated (to a particular unit) in the Declaration, or they may in some cases be allocated by the Board. In many cases, a dwelling unit will have its own parking space allocated to it. Therefore, the unit owner using the space does not hold legal title to the space, but has the exclusive right to use it. The unit owner is free to use the parking space subject to any restrictions in the condominium corporation’s governing documents.

However, some issues may arise where users of exclusive-use parking spaces begin to swap or lease out their spaces. As you can appreciate, the lack of separate legal title for each separate space can make it difficult for the condominium corporation to keep track of which unit owner is parking in which space, especially when units are being sold and new owners are moving into the condominium.

The condominium corporation can avoid the foregoing difficulties by setting out specific provisions, either through a by-law or rule, for the swapping or leasing of spaces and the requirement that the unit owners who are swapping or leasing the spaces notify the condominium corporation immediately so that it can maintain an accurate parking record. The by-law or rule could also include a provision that terminates the swap or lease of a space upon the transfer of the condominium unit by one of the affected owners. This will ensure that an owner purchasing a unit in the condominium can rely on the allocation in the Declaration. Alternatively, it may be possible to allow for “permanent assignments” of exclusive-use parking spaces. Our general recommendation is that such assignments be approved by the condominium corporation and registered on title to all affected units.

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