Q: There have been recent discussions in my condominium about the board installing an electric vehicle charging station for everyone to use. It was my understanding that owners are entitled to install charging stations at their expense. Doesn’t a common charging station that we all have to pay for require a vote of the owners? (G.R., via e-mail)
You correctly state that the Florida Condominium Act states that unit owners have a right to install electric vehicle charging stations in the unit owner’s limited common element parking space, or other parking space that is exclusively designated for their use, at their expense. The unit owner is responsible for separately metering the charging station as well. While unit owners have the right to install charging stations, the association can adopt reasonable architectural standards governing the dimension, placement and exterior appearance of the charging station, as well as ensuring that all applicable safety requirements and building codes are followed.
In addition to the unit owners’ right to install electric vehicle charging stations, the statute also provides that the association may install electric vehicle charging stations on the common elements and is authorized to establish the charges for use of the charging station and the manner of payment for such charge. Additionally, the statute specifically states that that installation of an electric vehicle charging station on the common elements is not a material alteration or substantial addition to the common elements or association property, which might otherwise require membership approval.
I would note that Chapter 720, the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act, does not have similar language. The installation of any electric vehicle charging station either on the lot or the common areas of a homeowners’ association would be governed by the documents for the community, and perhaps miscellaneous energy conservation statutes.
Q: I asked a question of our condominium association’s manager verbally and was told I need to make a “certified inquiry.” What is that? (C.G., via e-mail)
A: A “certified inquiry” is a written inquiry sent by a condominium unit owner to the board of directors of a residential condominium by certified mail. Under the Florida Condominium Act, the board must respond to a unit owner’s certified inquiry within 30 days of receipt.
The board’s response must either be a substantive one in response to the unit owner’s inquiry, notify the unit owner that the board has requested an opinion from the association’s attorney, or notify the unit owner that advice has been requested from the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares, and Mobile Homes (the “Division”). If the board requests advice from the Division, the board must provide the unit owner with a written, substantive response to the inquiry within 10 days after the association received the Division’s advice.
If a legal opinion is requested, the board must provide the unit owner with a written, substantive response to the inquiry within 60 days after the board received the inquiry. Failure to provide a substantive response to a unit owner’s certified inquiry precludes the condominium association from recovering attorneys’ fees and costs in any subsequent litigation, administrative proceeding, or arbitration arising out of the unit owner’s certified inquiry even though it may be the winning party and be otherwise entitled to do so.
The board of directors may adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding the frequency and manner of responding to certified unit owner inquiries. One such rule may be that the condominium association is only obligated to respond to one written inquiry per unit in any given 30-day period and any additional inquiry must be responded to in a subsequent 30-day period.
Joseph E. Adams is a Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law, and an Office Managing Shareholder with Becker & Poliakoff. Please send your community association legal questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Past editions of the Q&A may be viewed at floridacondohoalawblog.com.