California apartment renters will soon be able to install electric car charging stations

Renters and other multi-unit-dwelling occupants have a huge barrier to electric vehicle ownership – the access to electricity needed to charge their car at home.  I call this “level 0 charging” to differentiate from level 1 (120 volt AC) and level 2 (240 volt AC through a charging station).  We just moved into an apartment and are living the level 0 lifestyle, and finding out what range anxiety is all about.  Fortunately our state, California, has passed a law which (pending Gov. Brown’s signature) will require apartment owners to allow tenants to install charging stations, at their own expense.  Unfortunately the law doesn’t go into effect until next summer.  Fortunately it may be a big help to tenants across California, so let’s take a look at AB2565.

AB-2565 Rental property: electric vehicle charging stations, passed by both houses of the California Legislature on Aug 25, would, if signed by Gov. Brown, extend existing law for rental properties to require landlords to allow tenants to install electric car charging stations, at their own expense, under certain circumstances.

Cue the sigh of relief from tenants around California.

As of August 25, 2014, the law passed in both chambers of the California Legislature.  ChargePoint issued this statement:

Sacramento, Calif.– Assembly Bill (AB) 2565 by Assembly member Al Muratsuchi moves to Governor Jerry Brown after passing both houses of the State Legislature with bipartisan support.

AB2565 will give tenants the right to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at their home or business if the tenant is willing to pay for the installation. Today, lease restrictions often times add financial burden or even stop tenants from installing charging stations at all. ChargePoint has worked with Assembly member Murastuschi, prior opponents and longtime supporters in drafting AB 2565. ChargePoint’s CEO, Pasquale Romano had the following to say:

“The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is driven by access to EV charging. AB 2565 is critical to expanding access to charging around the state, including to the more than 40% of Californians who live in multifamily housing. This bill fosters the EV industry and drives the state toward Governor Brown’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025. In addition, local economies throughout California will benefit from the employment opportunities created as the industry grows. I thank Assembly member Muratsuchi and Senate Floor Manager Kevin de Leónfor their strong support of the EV industry, and I urge the Governor to add his signature to this legislation.”

California is the largest market for EVs in the U.S., representing over one third of national sales. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that between 1 million and 1.2 million public, workplace and residential charging stations are needed statewide by 2020. Governor Brown has until September 30 to sign AB 2565 into law.

Unfortunately it’s not that simple, so let’s take a look at the specifics.

The law applies to commercial and residential rental properties where off-street parking is provided in the lease, with more than five parking spaces, and where EVSE’s number less than 10% of the parking spaces.  It requires the use of regular charging stations, so simple power outlets would not be sufficient.

The process starts with a written request from the tenant to the landlord, and the tenant has to meet a fairly high level of documentation.  This includes a complete plan, provided by the tenant, for the installation, use, maintenance and removal of the charging station, as well as a complete financial model, and complete documentation of modifications required to the landlords property.  Additionally the tenant will have to put up a $1 million insurance policy naming the landlord, in case there is some kind of problem.

The requirements are understandable but so high that typical tenants won’t be able to comply.  Instead, I predict some electrical contractors will develop expertise with the requirements.  Tenants will be able to buy a service package that produces all the documentation, the insurance, and the contractor to do the wiring.  NRG’s eVgo operation in California could step into this game, because they are required to install wiring for electric vehicle charging in multi-unit-dwellings across California.  ChargePoint will also, obviously, be interested in this business.

Landlord’s are understandably reluctant to offer charging station access to tenants.  Many renters move from place to place every year or so, making landlords uncertain if an investment in electrical wiring for electric car charging will pay off.  The legal requirements in AB2565 seem meant to assuage the fears of the landlords.

I touched on a lot of these issues in an extensive article written for Charged EV’s Magazine (issue 5, Oct/Nov 2012) about a project in San Francisco to incentivize landlords to install charging stations.

Here’s AB 2565 as it currently stands on Aug 25, 2014:

SECTION 1. Section 1947.6 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

1947.6.
(a) For any lease executed, extended, or renewed on and after July 1, 2015, a lessor of a dwelling shall approve a written request of a lessee to install an electric vehicle charging station at a parking space allotted for the lessee that meets the requirements of this section and complies with the lessor’s procedural approval process for modification to the property.
(b) This section does not apply to residential rental properties where:
(1) Electric vehicle charging stations already exist for lessees in a ratio that is equal to or greater than 10 percent of the designated parking spaces.
(2) Parking is not provided as part of the lease agreement.
(3) A property where there are less than five parking spaces.
(4) A dwelling that is subject to the residential rent control ordinance of a public entity.
(c) For purposes of this section, “electric vehicle charging station” or “charging station” means any level of electric vehicle supply equipment station that is designed and built in compliance with Article 625 of the California Electrical Code, as it reads on the effective date of this section, and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into a plug-in electric vehicle.
(d) A lessor shall not be obligated to provide an additional parking space to a lessee in order to accommodate an electric vehicle charging station.
(e) If the electric vehicle charging station has the effect of providing the lessee with a reserved parking space, the lessor may charge a monthly rental amount for that parking space.
(f) An electric vehicle charging station and all modifications and improvements to the property shall comply with federal, state, and local law, and all applicable zoning requirements, land use requirements, and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
(g) A lessee’s written request to make a modification to the property in order to install and use an electric vehicle charging station shall include, but is not limited to, his or her consent to enter into a written agreement that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Compliance with the lessor’s requirements for the installation, use, maintenance, and removal of the charging station and installation, use, and maintenance of the infrastructure for the charging station.
(2) Compliance with the lessor’s requirements for the lessee to provide a complete financial analysis and scope of work regarding the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure.
(3) 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.
(4) Obligation of the lessee to pay the lessor all costs associated with the lessor’s installation of the charging station and its infrastructure prior to any modification or improvement being made to the leased property. The costs associated with modifications and improvements shall include, but are not limited to, the cost of permits, supervision, construction, and, solely if required by the contractor, consistent with its past performance of work for the lessor, performance bonds.
(5) Obligation of the lessee to 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.
(h) The lessee shall maintain in full force and effect a lessee’s general liability insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy commencing with the date of approval of construction until the lessee forfeits possession of the dwelling to the lessor.

SEC. 2. Section 1952.7 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

1952.7.
(a) (1) Any term in a lease that is executed, renewed, or extended on or after January 1, 2015, that conveys any possessory interest in commercial property that either prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in a parking space associated with the commercial property, or that is otherwise in conflict with the provisions of this section, is void and unenforceable.
(2) This subdivision does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. However, it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations.
(3) This subdivision shall not grant the holder of a possessory interest under the lease described in paragraph (1) the right to install electric vehicle charging stations in more parking spaces than are allotted to the leaseholder in his or her lease, or, if no parking spaces are allotted, a number of parking spaces determined by multiplying the total number of parking spaces located at the commercial property by a fraction, the denominator of which is the total rentable square feet at the property, and the numerator of which is the number of total square feet rented by the leaseholder.
(4) If the installation of an electric vehicle charging station has the effect of granting the leaseholder a reserved parking space and a reserved parking space is not allotted to the leaseholder in the lease, the owner of the commercial property may charge a reasonable monthly rental amount for the parking space.
(b) This section shall not apply to any of the following:
(1) A commercial property where charging stations already exist for use by tenants in a ratio that is equal to or greater than two available parking spaces for every 100 parking spaces at the commercial property.
(2) A commercial property where there are less than 50 parking spaces.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Electric vehicle charging station” or “charging station” means a station that is designed in compliance with Article 625 of the National Electrical Code, as it reads on the effective date of this section, and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into one or more electric vehicles.
(2) “Reasonable costs” includes, but is not limited to, costs associated 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.
(3) “Reasonable restrictions” or “reasonable standards” are restrictions or standards that do not significantly increase the cost of the electric vehicle charging station or its installation or significantly decrease the charging station’s efficiency or specified performance.
(d) 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.
(e) If lessor approval is required 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.
(f) An electric vehicle charging station installed by a lessee shall satisfy the following provisions:
(1) If lessor approval is required, the lessee first shall obtain approval from the lessor to install the electric vehicle charging station and the lessor shall approve the installation if the lessee complies with the applicable provisions of the lease consistent with the provisions of this section and agrees in writing to do all of the following:
(A) Comply with the lessor’s reasonable standards for the installation of the charging station.
(B) Engage a licensed contractor to install the charging station.
(C) Within 14 days of approval, provide a certificate of insurance that names the lessor as an additional insured under the lessee’s insurance policy in the amount set forth in paragraph (3).
(2) The lessee shall be responsible for all of the following:
(A) Costs for damage to property and the charging station resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station.
(B) Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station.
(C) The cost of electricity associated with the charging station.
(3) The lessee at all times, shall maintain a lessee liability coverage policy 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.
(g) A lessor may, in its sole discretion, create a new parking space where one did not previously exist to facilitate the installation of an electric vehicle charging station, in compliance with all applicable laws.
(h) Any installation by a lessor or a lessee of an electric vehicle charging station in a common interest development is also subject to all of the requirements of subdivision (f) of Section 4745 of the Civil Code.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

Leave a Reply