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Co-op and Condo Boards Can Lead the Charge on Electric Cars

Woodside, Queens

Electric vehicle charging stations, co-op and condo boards, carbon emissions.
April 4, 2022

A co-op shareholder in Woodside, Queens, is facing a dilemma. He has sole access to a dedicated garage, and he wants to buy an electric car. However, the co-op board will not give him permission to install an electric car charger, even though Con Edison has agreed to connect the charger to the grid. Can a condo or co-op board refuse such a request?

The answers are, respectively, no and yes, says the Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times. Because of changes made to state property laws in 2019, a condo board cannot impose unreasonable restrictions on the installation or use of charging stations on an owner’s property or deeded space. Co-op boards, however, are not subject to the rule, and most co-op buildings were obviously not designed with electric vehicles in mind.

“You’re dealing with buildings that could be from 1910 — they were using horses when that building went up,” says Mitchell Karasik, director of business development at En-Power Group, a mechanical-engineering firm that is in the process of installing around 2,000 charging stations in 200 residential and commercial buildings around the city. “The infrastructure upgrades that are needed can often be significant.”

But older buildings can — and are — installing charging stations. Mr. Karasik says he’s noticed a sharp uptick in interest from buildings over the past year. That shareholder at the Woodside co-op is not going to be able to force his board to do this, but he might persuade it to think differently. Charging stations could increase property values — any buyer who already owns an electric vehicle, or wants to, will not want to purchase an apartment in your co-op. The key is to get the co-op board to view charging stations as an investment, not an expense.

Because electric cars are coming. In September, New York State passed a law banning the sale of combustion engines for cars and light trucks by 2035. Co-op and condo boards need to prepare for the inevitable changes ahead — by leading the way on installing charging stations.

“I know 2035 is a long time from now, but the state is going electric,” says Leni Morrison Cummins, a member at the law firm Cozen O’Connor. “It’s happening, it’s just a matter of when.”

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