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Home Owner Associations & Electric Cars: How To Make It Work (Advice From A Pro)

Residents of condominiums and other multiple dwellings who drive plug-in electric cars are fast becoming a challenge for the managers and boards that run those buildings.

Early this month, a $450 charging cable was destroyed by a vandal in a Venice, Florida, condominium parking garage while it was plugged into a 2013 Chevrolet Volt.

MORE: Chevy Volt Charging Cord Cut: Angry Neighbor, Electric-Car Hater?

That story generated fierce and voluminous discussion, much of which highlighted the essential problem: The Home Owner Associations, or HOAs, that oversee operations at condos often have no background in electric cars.

Vandalized charging cord from 2013 Chevrolet Volt, Venice, Florida [photo: M Cummings / J Brown]

Vandalized charging cord from 2013 Chevrolet Volt, Venice, Florida [photo: M Cummings / J Brown]

Sweetening the idea

Consequently, their reactions to a request by an electric-car owner to plug into a garage receptacle can range all over the map–and other residents may react to use of that electricity as a “theft” from the assocation.

But there are many avenues available for electric-car owners to help educate HOA members and pave the way for fair and amicable policies around use of electric plugs in common areas to recharge.

Laura Harris is CEO of The Property Group, a association-management company in Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Her company manages “about 20 condominiums with common-area parking garages,” she said, but so far, “we only have two that have owners or renters with plug-in vehicles.”

MORE: Landlords Vs Tenants With Electric Cars: Study Proposes Solutions

Harris also owns a 2013 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, so she’s perfectly placed to discuss practical ways to address the new and complex issues posed when the first electric-car owning resident asks to plug in.
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