California law provides a framework for California tenants to request permission from their landlords to install electric vehicle charging stations. Those laws are found at Civil Code §1947.6  (residential tenancies) and Civil Code §1952.7 (commercial tenancies). Laws regarding electric vehicle charging stations in homeowner’s associations are found at Civil Code § 4745 and 4745.1. In 2018, SB 1016 amended the law regarding electric charging stations in HOAs, and AB 1796 amended the law regarding electric vehicle stations in rent controlled units. A summary of the law is below.

Residential

For residential leases signed, renewed or extend on or after July 1, 2015, landlords are required to approve a tenant’s written request to install an electric vehicle charging station at the tenant’s parking space if the tenant enters into a written agreement which includes requirements regarding the installation, use, maintenance and removal of the charging station, requires the tenant pay for all modifications, and requires the tenant to maintain a $1,000,000 general liability insurance policy. The charging station and modifications must comply with all applicable laws and covenants, conditions and restrictions. 

The tenant is required to pay the cost associated with the electric usage of the charging station. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant with an additional parking space in order to comply with this law. This law does not apply: 

  1. When parking is not included as part of the rental contract; 
  2. To properties with fewer than five parking spaces; 
  3. To properties subject to rent control (unless either (a) a lease is executed, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2019, or (b the unit is within a jurisdiction that adopted an ordinance before January 1, 2018 requiring the landlord to approve a tenant’s request to install an electric vehicle charging station at the tenant’s parking space); 
  4. When 10% or more of existing spaces already have electric vehicle charging stations

Commercial

For commercial leases executed on or after January 1, 2015, landlords are required to approve a tenant’s written request to install an electric vehicle charging station if certain requirements are met.  The tenant is not allowed to install more electric vehicle charging stations than the number of spaces allocated to tenant under the lease. If no parking spaces were allocated, the tenant has the right to convert a number of spaces based on a formula which takes into account the square footage of the rented premises and the total number of parking spaces for the entire property. This law does not apply: (1) to a commercial property with less than 50 parking spaces; or (2) to a commercial property which already has 2 electric charging stations for every 100 spaces. AB 2565 is codified at Civil Code §§1947.6 (residential property) and 1952.7 (commercial property).

HOA

HOAs may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of electric vehicle charging stations in a designated parking space.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. While KTS provides clients with information on legislative changes, our courtesy notifications are not meant to be exhaustive and do not take the place of legislative services or membership in trade associations. Our legal alerts are provided on selected topics and should not be relied upon as a complete report of all new changes of local, state, and federal laws affecting property owners and managers. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. For contact information, please visit our website: www.kts-law.com. For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers and Legal Articles, please consult the resource section of our website.

OPPOSE SB 638!

(An open letter sent by Michael Millman, Atty.)

[Editor’s Note:  Existing law requires a lessor of a dwelling to approve a written request of a lessee to install an electric vehicle charging station at a parking space allotted for the lessee in accordance with specified requirements, including the lessee maintaining in full force and effect a lessee’s general liability insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000), as provided.

SB 638  – This bill would remove the requirement to obtain a general liability insurance policy, and instead require the lessee to obtain personal liability coverage, in an amount not to exceed 10 times the annual rent changed for the dwelling, covering property damage and personal injury proximately caused by the installation or operation of the electric vehicle charging station. The bill would provide that this insurance requirement would not apply if the charging station is certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory that is approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor and any associated alterations to the dwelling’s electrical system are performed by a licensed electrician.]

Friends:

Apparently, no members of the apartment industry were consulted [regarding SB 638].  If a tenant or their friends, neighbors or others bootleg onto a charging station outlet where you have two or more trying to charge concurrently, you have the potential for disaster – electric overload – and the entire apartment complex destroyed by fire.  Be careful.

The tenant must be responsible and must identify and hold harmless the owner.  A million dollar insurance coverage is adequate.

We have always approved of and promoted charging stations if the tenants are responsible and they are billed directly.  Concurrently, there is appropriate insurance for the installation and handling of the charging station.  

These charging stations can be dangerous if misused.  We support electric charging stations but the owner needs to be protected from misuses and there needs to be sufficient insurance.

I’m advised that a Santa Monica City Councilperson who has lived in a rent controlled unit for approximately 30 years and is paying rent somewhere in the neighborhood of 1970 prices, wanted a charging station, but he did not want to pay the annual insurance premium.  Using his influence, apparently SB 638 was initiated.

Now, for brand new, luxury units where charging stations are indeed installed and the cost including insurance can be baked into the new rent, (as it is exempt from rent control), it does not present a problem.  So, I’m disappointed that industry representatives were never notified.

I support the current arrangement where the tenant pays a premium for a $1,000,000 policy.

Thank you.  Michael Millman