New laws in California signed into effect by the Governor in September 2014 now give tenants rights to install charging stations for their electric vehicles.  If tenants follow the letter of the law, a landlord is required to approve the installation and it could result in your tenant getting an assigned parking spot.  Here’s what you need to know, in a nutshell:

Landlord Requirements:

  • Any lease that is executed, renewed or extended on or after July 2015 is subject to these new laws
  • If you require final sign-off for the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station, the application for approval shall not be willfully avoided or delayed. The approval or denial of an application shall be in writing.
  • You are required to approve the installation if the tenant follows the law and meets your reasonable requirements.
  • If the tenant pays for the charging station, they have the right to have permanent access to it during the duration of their lease, even if you don’t assign parking spots to other tenants.
  • You are exempt from the requirements in this law, if….
    • You already have charging stations for your tenants that cover at least 10% of the available parking spots
    • You don’t provide ANY parking
    • You are renting a property with less than five parking spots
    • You have a rent-controlled property
  • Other exemptions apply to commercial properties – read the law

Protecting Your Interests

While the law does require you to approve the tenant’s request if you are not exempt, the law also makes provisions for you to set some ground rules about how the charging station will be installed and maintained.  The tenant is required to consent in writing to your rules, and the rules can include (but are not limited to):

  • Tenant’s responsibility for and rules regarding installation, use, maintenance, and removal of the charging station
  • Tenant’s responsibility for and rules regarding installation, use, and maintenance of the infrastructure for the charging station
  • Requiring the tenant provide you with a financial analysis and scope of work regarding the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure
  • Requiring the tenant provide a written description of how, when, and where the modifications and improvements to the property are proposed to be made consistent with those items specified in the “Permitting Checklist” of the “Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook” published by the Office of Planning and Research.
  • Requiring the tenant pay for all costs associated with the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure up front, such as the cost of permits, supervision, construction, and, solely if required by the contractor, consistent with its past performance of work for the tenant, performance bonds
  • Requiring the tenant pay as part of rent for the costs associated with the electrical usage of the charging station, and cost for damage, maintenance, repair, removal, and replacement of the charging station, and modifications or improvements made to the property associated with the charging station
  • Requiring the tenant maintain in full force and effect a tenant’s general liability insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the lessor (property owner) as a named additional insured under the policy commencing with the date of approval of construction until the tenant forfeits possession of the dwelling to the lessor.  They must provide a certificate of insurance within 14 days of your approval of the charging station.
  • An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities as well as all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permit requirements.
  • The charging station must be installed by a licensed contractor.
  • If you do not provide all tenants with assigned parking spots, and the tenant winds up with an assigned spot because they have paid for the installation charging station, you are allowed to charge the tenant a reasonable amount of rent on the parking space.

If the tenant fails to meet your reasonable requirements, or is unwilling to consent in writing, you can deny their request, but must do so in writing.

Tenant Obligations

  • Costs for damage to property and the charging station resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station
  • Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station
  • The cost of electricity associated with the charging station>
  • Maintaining a liability coverage policy at all times in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000), and shall name the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy with a right to notice of cancellation and property insurance covering any damage or destruction caused by the charging station, naming the lessor as its interests may appear

If you are subject to this law (meaning you do not qualify for one of the exemptions) we strongly encourage you to develop a written policy in accordance with this law so that it is available if a tenant requests a charging station.

Read the full text of the law.