Electric Vehicles in Condos

electric cars.jpgToday, in celebration of Earth Day (yes I know I’m late), I thought that I would write about an environmental issue that is becoming more common in condominiums: electric vehicles. An electric vehicle is one powered by electricity stored in rechargeable batteries instead of using traditional fuel sources, like gasoline or diesel.  Some cars, called hybrids, use a combination of sources.

So you might be thinking “why is this an issue for condominiums?” Simple. There are many legal issues that need to be addressed before owners plug in their cars. Where is the vehicle charged? Who pays for the electricity consumed? What if the condominium doesn’t have a suitable location to charge the vehicle? Who pays to upgrade facilities so charging is possible? Can the condominium install charging stations to be used by all of the owners? These are only a few of the questions that I’ve been asked.

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Do you need a section 98 agreement?

changesIn the last two weeks, I’ve had two people suggest that I write about section 98 of the Condominium Act, 1998, so that’s what I’m going to do today. (Thanks for the suggestions!).

Section 98 of the Condominium Act, 1998, addresses situations where owners want to make an “addition, alteration or improvement” to the common elements. The courts have defined “addition” as joining or connecting something to a structure; “alteration” as changing the structure; and “improvement” as the betterment of the property or enhancement of it.  Continue reading

Changes to the common elements, assets or services

One area that almost always causes confusion or outrage among the owners is additions, alterations or improvements (“changes”) made to the common elements, assets or services by the condominium. Section 97 of the Condominium Act, 1998, sets out the obligations a condominium must satisfy before making certain changes to the common elements, assets or services. Section 98 of the Act deals with changes made by an owner. I will address that issue in a later post.

There are a few of important points to note about section 97. First, it applies to changes to the common elements, but also assets owned by the condominium or services provided by the condominium. This is often forgotten. This section should be consulted if a condominium wishes to sell any assets it owns, such as parking units, or change a service that it currently provides to the owners, such as bulk television services. Second, you cannot read a particular subsection in isolation. A contract for work may exceed the 10% threshold for a substantial change, but it may not even require notice to the owners if one of the previous subsections applies. Third, even though notice may not be required by the Act, it is usually a good idea to notify the owners of important projects that are planned in advance so they are not surprised by the sight of construction when they arrive home from work one day.

I hope this diagram helps you when you are considering any change to the common elements, assets or services. Do I need approval?