Advise please - how to approach HOA to install EV charger in garage

Advise please - how to approach HOA to install EV charger in garage

I live in Townhouse in Pacifica, CA. I have a detached garage (attached to other garages) that I want to install 14-50 Nema Outlet. Although the garage is our, per HOA, the electricity paid for by HOA. The HOA policy clearly states owners/tenants can't charge EV in the garage. We have 110 outlets in the garage. I only used it to open and close the garage door.

What I'm think proposing HOA is to allow HOA to tap the power from one of the panels to install Nema outlet in the garage. Of course, I will be paying for everything to get it installed.

Should I have an electrician come out first and see if this even possible prior to contacting HOA?
Do I need a lawyer to deal with HOA instead of on my own?

Thanks in advance for your advise and help.

twcekud | 20 gennaio 2019

Hey VC, I've just installed a charger in my condo garage. Here's what I did: 1. get approval from HOA first. 2. estimates from licensed electricians. 3. contact electric delivery company and city ordinance to make sure you're in compliance.

Magic 8 Ball | 20 gennaio 2019

Can-o-worms. Start with HOA to see if they are receptive at any level (float the idea of possible separate meter even). You are doing your neighbors a favor by tackling this first but many won't see it that way. Sell and find your neighbor allies. Lawyer to deal with HOA will only start you off on a hostile relation with them, not a good idea, IMO.

twcekud | 20 gennaio 2019

I did sell the idea to my HOA that many new condos already have courtesy EV charging spaces to attract buyers or leasers and EV is the way of the future. Everyone in the HOA agrees. In your case if you have an individual meter it's best to run a line directly from it but if you don't then you can run a line from the main panel with a sub-meter to monitor your usage.

AmpHog | 20 gennaio 2019

You may want to look at Civil Code 4745, which was amended by SB 1016 last year. It sharply limits a HOA's ability to restrict EV charging. Note also, that under 4745.1, you may be permitted to install a separate TOU meter for EV charging.

joe_rob | 20 gennaio 2019

Same has above. Had an electrician out to do a free estimate and advise on the install. Put together a plan and floated by the HOA who were receptive. Tesla has some great resources as well to deal with this scenario including a pre-written letter. Got the approval and went ahead with the install. Had to drill through a concrete slab to connect it back to my meter but it was worth. Should ad an advantage when I sale this place and the dedicated parking spot.

rxlawdude | 20 gennaio 2019

@AmpHog nailed it but "The HOA policy clearly states owners/tenants can't charge EV in the garage" is totally unenforceable and void.

There are, however, significant hoops and caveats to getting your garage wired for charging, but it is doable.

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

Thank you all very much for your advice everyone. I just came back from my garage to look for the electric panel but couldn't find it. It would be too hard/expensive to run a line from my meter since there are 2 units between my townhouse and my garage.

@Magic 8 Ball - good point. I didn't think about that.

I am going to call around for free estimate/consultation with the electrician first. Start from there.

It is funny the day after I got my Model 3 delivered I got an email from HOA asking me to fill out all my cars info. Once I submitted, they email me to remind me that I can't charge in my garage.

Magic 8 Ball | 20 gennaio 2019

@VC Based on the email they sent you it sounds like you will have an uphill battle. If you have a community center I would start with cakes and cookies and maybe a handout on the EV trend and benefits of supporting EV charging.

Show examples of how Silly Valley workers are taking charging perks as a serious incentive to work at places. Feel out the "greenies" to see if they are on board (your area should have plenty of green Earthers). Be patient but persevere.

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

Thanks, Magic 8 Ball.

Magic 8 Ball | 20 gennaio 2019

Of course the path of least resistance, and instant gratification, is to sell and get out from underneath another level of government you don't need. However, if you do take on the battle and win, it will be extremely satisfying. The key is to plan it carefully and under no circumstance get people pissed at you. Plan how you will deal with rejection without being hostile or being treated with hostility. Make every encounter a teaching moment for them and yourself and keep it light the whole time.

A community mixer with cookies cakes and booze, lots of booze, is good start. If that doesn't work invite Tesla friends over and have them wear leather jackets and rev up their motors (never mind) do obnoxious things to intimidate the neighbors into thinking things your way.

Gawd, I really don't hate on things but HOA's, aye yai yai.

howard | 20 gennaio 2019

As AmpHog stated above do your homework first on the exact legal statutes by city, county and state that allow you to do so. Often the HOA will just say no not knowing you have rights. Have an electrician evaluate the site and give an estimate for install. If pulling the power from HOA common service panel have the electrician include a point of use meter. Once you are prepared to move forward present the HOA with your request, league basis for installing the EV plug and the electrician plan. The electrician should know or check to make sure local codes allow it as well.

howard | 20 gennaio 2019

Is the garage space deeded to you? You own it?

jim | 20 gennaio 2019

As AmpHog mentioned, you should looked at CA Civil Code Section 4745: It limits what an HOA can flat out say no to when it comes to EV charging.

If you approach your HOA board in a friendly way and it seems like they are ignoring Section 4745, then look for an attorney that is an expert in HOA law. I can't emphasize getting a Lawyer with HOA expertise enough. I have been on the board of a large HOA (with thousands of members) here in CA for over 10 years and I've seen lots of law suits. The thing that most people don't realize is that if they lose their court case, they will probably be liable for both sides attorney's fees (HOA cases in CA are basically winner takes all) and the economic pain of losing to your HOA cannot be understated. Of course if you win, then your HOA will probably have to pay for your attorney :)

I hope your HOA is reasonable, that they understand section 4745 and that you can get your charger without any legal action. Good Luck!

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

Thanks Howard.

That's my thinking too to get all the info from the electrician, PG&E, legal advise and etc, prior to contacting HOA.
I'm also thinking of calling PGE to see If I can install secondary meter (expensive way and not my first choice).

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

Thanks Jim for the info.

RES IPSA | 20 gennaio 2019

When in doubt... always hire a lawyer... ;)

howard | 20 gennaio 2019

Oh forgot to mention submitt the request in writing with copies of the leagal statues, electricians plans and any other pertinent documentation like from the electric company. Good luck.

RES IPSA | 20 gennaio 2019

But seriously. I would first find out if it is feasible to get a 240v outlet installed in your garage from a electrician. And remember, you don't need 50 amps or more to effectively charge. Your load coming into the garage may only sustain 20-30 amps, which is fine and can set on the car. If it is not feasible, then no point in any more research, legal advice, etc.

If it is feasible, approach the board with your plan. One suggestion would be to agree to increase your personal HOA monthly dues by $50... $75... $100. Try to come up with a fair number based upon the rate from the utility in combination with your average monthly mileage. This could be a temporary fix until the plan outlines below comes to fruition.

Long term plan... Have the HOA contact their lawyer and amend the CCR's (may require a vote... probably time to update those since more and more owners may be getting EV's in the near future.

A year ago, I was finally able to get my HOA to develop a policy for solar panels. It took several months, but the board finally realized the future was already hear.

RES IPSA | 20 gennaio 2019

sorry for the typos... I am sloppy today

rkalbiarEV | 20 gennaio 2019

You have yo clear this through an HOA!? Good Grief!

Tesla2018 | 20 gennaio 2019

I had to get HOA approval to paint my house. My street was built by one developer who then sold out to another who did all the other streets.
They said I had to paint it the same color. I asked why and they said they didnt want two houses next to each other painted the same color. Told them that almost all the houses on our street were the same color since our developer must have gotten a good deal and painted as many houses as he could. They let me paint it another color.
They also tried telling people that solar panels had to be red to match the roof tile colors.

Lonestar10_1999 | 20 gennaio 2019

Back when I lived in a duplex townhouse in NJ, my wife joined the HOA as a board member. The position was voluntary as only the Manger was paid for services rendered. As a board member, you can have a huge impact on interpretation of existing bylaws and you can advocate for adoption of new policies.

If I lived in a condo development that had restrictive EV charging policies, I would try to be elected to the board.

lumberjack | 20 gennaio 2019

Put on your salesman hat. In the next HOA meeting, give them a nice presentation of how HOA adding EVSEs in the townhouse complex would make the property attractive and increase property value. Also remind them that the law might actually be on the individual owners' side if they want to add EVSEs on their own and such arbitrary additions could possibly be a nuisance for the HOA and electrical loads in the complex. I think there are programs from EVSE manufacturers such as Chargepoint and even Tesla to subsidize EVSE installations in multi-dwelling properties. Tell them they may be able to get all these benefits without any expense.

In a nutshell, selling them that EVSEs are good for them is probably a better approach than a pissing contest using a lawyer.

kcheng | 20 gennaio 2019

Why is the HOA paying for the electricity in the garage if you own it?

Tesla2018 | 20 gennaio 2019

Some condos have garages that are all on one structure withmultiple garage doors. They have one meter for the entire building.

I used to live in a condo that had one water meter for about 12 units. The bill was paid by the HOA as part of the budgeted amount of our dues. I hardly used any water since I had a one bedroom condo, but some of the ones in my building had 4 bedrooms and families that used a lot more water than me. But in a garage the only power used is normally to open a garage door so the budgeted amoint is minimal. If everyone started using $50 of electricity each month it would cost the hoa more. In addition most garages arent set up to handle that much current being drawn. When I was on the hoa board when I had a condo I was told that in the summer they needed to shut off the power for an hour to each section in rotating basis since the local grid couldnt handle 3000 central airconditioners being on at the same time.

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

Tesla 2018 explained it perfect. Although the garage is our, the electricity bill for garage doors paid by the HOA. Many of my neighbors open their garage manually.

I am thinking of asking the HOA permission to install submetering for my garage so I can get a separate electricity bill which of course I will offer to pay to the HOA.

I contacted a couple of electricians via email today. Hopefully, they are willing to come out to my place for consultations. I'm still looking for more electricians and contact them for on-site consultations.

VC | 20 gennaio 2019

@twcekud How did you initially contact the HOA for approval? Meaning, did you email or call the HOA manager for initial contact?

EM34ME | 21 gennaio 2019

I went through this with my HOA. Our HOA management, a large independent third party company, told me that in California they cannot legally prevent me form installing EV charging or solar panels or power walls, etc. But they can legally require reasonable regulations, adopted by the HOA community owners for those installations. One reasonable regulation is that owners must pay for their own electrical costs for personal use. In this case, that probably means running a line from your personal residential meter to your garage space or installing a new sub-panel that would be accessible to your local utility company. That could get very expensive. So besides talking to HOA management and your personal electrician, I would also talk to your utility company for their requirements.

I was super lucky in the Inland Empire area. It only cost me about $300 (material and labor) to install a NEMA 14-50 in my stand alone garage.