EV Charging in Apartment Buildings: First Steps

February 23, 2023 3 min read

Who's responsible for EV charging in apartment buildings? Creating a charging point may be a project for the apartment association, a manager, or a tenant.

Each resident in an apartment building has a ‘right to plug’

The following has been in place in France since 1 January 2015:

A tenant or a co-owner can apply for the right to install charging infrastructure at their own cost and connect it with an individual meter and the building’s electrical system. That is called a ‘right to plug’.

That means the charger installing costs should be covered by the person who wants to charge their EV at their parking space. However, that does not mean the apartment association could not cover a part of the expenses of installing the infrastructure. Especially when it comes to the entire property.

Can an apartment association say no to EV charging?

Without a serious and justified reason, an apartment association cannot be opposed to establishing a charging infrastructure. If a resident files an application, the board of the apartment association must discuss it as part of an agenda within three months.

In practice, it would be wise to use that undeniable right as a last resort, though. Even if there is just one charger in an apartment association, EV charging is still a topic that needs general rules.

What are the first steps to take if the project is initiated by a single owner or a tenant?

If the project is initiated by a single owner or a tenant, the board of the apartment association has to give approval first. The resident always has to get the apartment association’s say-so to start charging. You cannot use the property’s electricity or install cables without authorisation.

First, you will need to make sure the power grid is capable enough, and second, resolve the issue of cost distribution by using an electricity meter or a smart charger.

You can use the VOOL charger to divide expenses automatically. All you need is an account for each user in the VOOL user portal. From then on, each user can log on to see how much and when they used power to charge.

Who will bear the costs of establishing an infrastructure?

All apartment owners together should decide on how to cover the cost and put the chargers into use.

The most typical situation in apartment associations is that the resident pays to buy an EV charger for their parking space. The cost of the charging system and charging capacity is divided between either all apartment owners or all EV owners. These expenses can be likened to the shared costs of renovation or improvement done on the building.

The issue of costs may become a problem when there are more than one or two EVs, such as when the power grid capacity has to be increased. Or when new tenants or residents want to start using an already established infrastructure. By law, they should then pay reasonable compensation. There is much room for interpretation and the solution comes down to each particular case. The division of costs depends on the decision of all owners.

Can an apartment association buy a shared charging point at first and invest in a centrally managed charging system later?

When we think about the next 10 years and the total cost of the infrastructure, it would make more sense to get the charging capacity and establish an infrastructure needed for all parking spaces at once.

Charger sharing is directly dependent on the people and the devices they choose.

It is an issue if the apartment association only has a few charging points and several residents need to charge at once. Since EVs are usually charged overnight, a switch would need to happen in the middle of the night. Such a solution might work, if the users have good communication and can agree on things.

VOOL makes it easy to share one charging station between several users. It monitors each user’s consumption to make sure invoices are fair. Users can book a slot, monitor charging in real time, etc.

What should you know about the paperwork between the apartment association, EV owner and electricity supplier?

A power network functions on the basis of a contract entered into between a co-owners’ syndicate and the installer/manager of the network. It is important to make sure the contract is signed by the network company and the co-owners’ syndicate, not a single resident. This allows for regular network maintenance even when tenants/owners move house and gives a solid point of contact for the network operator and other residents who want to join later.

​​How much does it cost to install EV chargers in an apartment building?

It depends. How easy is it to install a charging point in the building? The chargers must be installed by certified electricians and their rate is at least a few hundred euros. Incidental costs may come from digging, landscaping, and changes to the power system. The price is also higher if there are more charging points.

Each building is different. Sometimes the cable has to run along a long and complex route, sometimes the main fuse is insufficient. In extreme cases, the old and run-down electrical installation requires higher expenditure.

Since construction and installation work makes up a significant portion of costs, it would be wise to prepare all of the EV charging readiness at once – to make sure the total costs are lower. If done correctly, the wiring will function properly for 50 years.

If load control chargers are used, it may not even be necessary to make any changes in the power system.

Who pays for charging device maintenance?

Maintenance and service costs are usually covered by the person using the charging point. A charging point can also be installed, maintained and managed (down to the invoicing) by the operator.

However, if you use a smart charger, you do not need an operator to do any of that. Smart charging devices allow for dynamic load control to make sure there is no overload in the power system, everyone can charge under equal conditions, and use the many extra options available in the mobile app. And that includes simple and transparent invoicing.

Read more:

Watt's the Buzz? EV Chargers become a Hot Topic for Apartment Associations

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VOOL is the first complete EV charging solution making reliable, smart, and cost-efficient charging available for everyone. Affordable and hassle-free EV charging fastens the energy transition. VOOL means hardware and software made inhouse, flexible charging options for private users and businesses. You can save money with smart charging and earn money opening your chargers to other EV owners.

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EU funding
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 190136402. This publication reflects only the author’s views and the European Union is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.