While homeowners who aren’t part of a homeowners association (HOA) or any other neighborhood governing body can install electric vehicle (EV) chargers as they please, for those that are subject to neighborhood governance, and even more so for renters, rules are less clear.
HOAs can sometimes block homeowners from installing an EV charger if it falls outside neighborhood guidelines, and apartment building owners can simply deny renters the ability to install an EV charger in their designated parking space.
That’s why there’s a growing trend of states passing so-called “Right-to-Charge” policies, ensuring individuals can charge their EV where they live. Right-to-Charge policies aim to protect homeowners and sometimes renters while still safeguarding building owners, HOAs and the like. They effectively prevent discriminatory practices related to charging access, giving EV owners the right to install charging stations in their residences, subject to reasonable restrictions and safety considerations.
As of June 2023, they exist in ten states: Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. However, only in California, Colorado, Connecticut and Virginia are both homeowners and renters protected. The remaining six states’ policies only focus on homeowners.
Highlights from Right-to-Charge states’ policies
Right-to-Charge policies are fairly lengthy formal documents written in legislative language, which can obscure how similar they are state to state. Key differences are who is protected (homeowners, renters or both), how extensive the requirements are for the party trying to install an EV charger (permits, insurance, contractors’ drawings), and how long each party is given to take certain steps.
Florida Statute 718.113 covers unit owners—not renters. This includes house and condominium owners in HOAs. The statute gives them the right to install EV chargers in their houses or in some common spaces, as long as they:
comply with building codes
follow “reasonable restrictions” set by the HOA, which can include complying with architectural guidelines and electrical safety standards as well as having insurance coverage
cover all costs and responsibilities associated with the EV charger
Colorado has two Right-to-Charge policies, one for “common interest communities”—an umbrella term that includes HOAs as well as other governing bodies of multiple housing units (like condos and retirement communities)—and another for tenants and landlords. They have many of the same provisions, including barring common interest communities and landlords from:
Prohibiting homeowners and renters installing EV chargers
Charging homeowners and renters a fee to install or use EV chargers aside from the cost of electricity use
The policies do their part to protect common interest communities and landlords by stipulating that they can still insist that safety requirements be met and require the EV charger be registered with them within 30 days of installation. They can also insist that “reasonable aesthetic provisions” around the dimensions, placement or external appearance of an electric vehicle charging system be adhered to.
Homeowners and renters may be responsible for the costs associated with the installation and maintenance, and have to carry liability insurance for the charger, and they have to either remove or sell the charger if they leave the property.
SECTION 339-LL of New York State’s laws voids any restriction that “effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts” a homeowner installing an EV charger. It requires any homeowner governing body to respond to requests to install EV chargers within 60 days, or the request is considered automatically approved. Homeowners without access to a parking space, or with a parking space where installing an EV charger would be impossible or “unreasonably expensive,” can even install an EV charger in a common space exclusively for their use.
Homeowners have to have a licensed contractor do the install and show proof of insurance that also covers the HOA within 14 days of installation. Unit owners looking to sell must tell prospective buyers about the EV charger and its responsibilities.
Connecticut passed their Right-to-Charge legislation in October 2022, similarly preventing landlords, HOAs and any other governing body from “prohibiting or unreasonably restricting” EV charger installation. That applies to both private parking spaces and shared spaces if the EV driver doesn’t have access to private parking.
The policy stipulates that the person installing the EV charger is responsible not just for fees they incur installing the charger but for any fees the HOA or landlord incurs as well, including:
Increased master policy premiums
Zoning compliance costs
New grid or meter connections
What organizations should be aware of in Right-to-Charge states
As EV adoption rises, more and more home driveways and multiunit parking spaces will feature EV chargers. HOAs and landlords can use favorable, streamlined policies for EV charger installation to attract tenants and increase home value. At a minimum, HOAs, landlords and the like should be aware of the Right-to-Charge requirements in their state.
For those with policies that cover owners and renters, it’s important to know that nobody can be barred from installing an EV charger. That should compel such organizations to clarify their compliance guidelines and their approval process. Especially when tenants or owners don’t have dedicated parking spaces, it pays to proactively assess how and where EV chargers could best be installed in shared parking spaces.
Remember that this should come at no cost to housing governing bodies, and pose no risk to building or health code compliance. Those bodies, depending on the state, can ask for an installation plan prepared by a licensed contractor that includes a diagram showing the location and specifications of the proposed installation. Moreover, HOAs and landlords can require EV charger owners to restore the parking space to its original condition at their own expense if they leave for any reason.
With protections like that there’s really no reason to resist the installation of EV chargers, especially when EVs benefit neighborhood air quality and reduce noise pollution.