As electric vehicles (EV) become more common place there will be an increased need for charging stations. While demand has not yet peaked, it is important that tenants and owners’ corporations understand their obligations. The article provides an overview and introduction to the relevant legislation, helping to clarify core aspects of the process to amending strata properties to include EV charging stations. If you have any questions or require clarification, Carneys Lawyers has an expert team of solicitors who can assist you with your individual matter.
The distinction between common and lot property and the obligations regarding these types of property
Prior to determining who bears responsibility for the work and costs incurred during the installation of an EV charging station and the relevant procedural formalities and approvals necessary for this work to occur, it is important to understand the distinction between common and lot property.
Generally, spaces within a strata scheme are divided into two categories, each bearing different obligations and responsibilities: –
- common property which belongs to and is owned and maintained by the owners’ corporation; or
- lot property which belongs to and is owned and maintained by an individual lot owner.
Determining the boundaries between lot and common property is a complex process. However, generally speaking the lot property will include the: –
- inner surface of a boundary wall;
- the upper surface of the floor; and
- the under surface of a ceiling.
Anything which is not part these exclusions are in most cases considered common property. The specifications of this are provided for under the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.
Understanding the distinction between these different types of property is essential for any work concerning the introduction of EV chargers as this determines who has legal ownership of the given land where a proposed charging station would be located.
It is important to note that legal ownership does not in all cases correlate with who has an obligation in relation to the property. There are cases where a common property by-law has been imposed that transfers the owners corporation’s obligation for maintenance and repair over common property to a lot owner. A common example of this is the introduction of a communal garden bed where often a common property by-law is passed that confers obligation to a lot owner for the maintenance of this space. Understanding the disjuncture between ownership and obligation is a complex and technical matter. However, it is an important concept for lot owners and an owners cooperation to understand, when considering the implementation of an EV charging station, as by-laws are a typical template used.
Alterations to common property
Engaging in work that alters the common property will require a special resolution at a general meeting. Typically for a special resolution to be passed it requires that no more than 25% of the value of votes cast were against the motion. However, in the case of a “sustainability infrastructure resolution”, which an EV charging station would be categorised as, the value of the votes cast on the motion must be less than 50% against.
If a special resolution is approved, the obligation for the repair and maintenance will fall to the owners corporation unless a common law property by-law is passed which would effectively transfer the obligation to a lot owner or owners.
Limitations of template by-laws
It is important to acknowledge that in some circumstances the information provided in this article may not be relevant or appropriate due to various factors, including the following: –
- if the car park in your strata scheme is common property;
- if your strata scheme already has existing by-laws in place;
- if complex arrangements are in place regarding usage and electricity costs;
- if your strata scheme is subject to an embedded electricity network; or
- if complex technical requirements are needed for the planned work;
Due to the complexities arising from the above process, it is vital to seek legal advice to guide you through this process. Carneys Lawyers has a team of experienced strata lawyers who can assist you with your matter.