Background

An owner, Mr. Burns, applied to the body corporate committee to install an EV charger in his exclusive use car space. The committee initially refused the application due to lack of crucial information from Mr. Burns, such as detailed plans, specifications, conditions of use, fire risk assessment, and confirmation from the insurer regarding any exclusions or costs.

The Adjudication

Mr. Burns challenged the committee’s decision, and the matter went to adjudication. The adjudicator dismissed Mr. Burns’ application, citing the following reasons:

  1. Lack of Information: Mr. Burns failed to provide crucial information to the committee, including detailed plans, specifications, conditions of use, fire risk assessment, and confirmation from the insurer regarding any exclusions or costs.
  2. Reasonableness of the Committee: The committee acted reasonably by considering relevant factors, such as the equitable use of power and electrical capacity, potential impact on common property appearance, availability of better alternatives, and the commitment of non-EV owners to costs benefiting only EV owners.
  3. Active Engagement: The committee actively engaged with Mr. Burns, commissioned an assessment of the scheme’s ability to cope with EV charging stations, considered the consequences of approving the proposal, and transparently explained its concerns and reasons for refusal.

Lessons for the Body Corporate Committee

  1. Require Detailed Information: Require detailed information from owners proposing improvements, including plans, specifications, conditions of use, risk assessments, and confirmation from insurers.
  2. Consider Broader Implications: Consider the broader implications of approving such proposals, such as equity, impact on common property, electrical capacity, and costs to non-benefiting owners.
  3. Active Engagement and Transparency: Actively engage with owners, commission expert assessments if needed, thoroughly review proposals, and transparently communicate concerns and reasons for decisions.
  4. Act Reasonably: Act reasonably by considering all relevant factors, engaging with owners, seeking expert advice, and making decisions in the best interest of the body corporate as a whole.

The adjudicator found that the committee acted reasonably in refusing Mr. Burns’ application due to the lack of crucial information provided by him and the committee’s active engagement, consideration of relevant factors, and transparency in decision-making.

The committee wanted the owner (Mr. Burns) to provide the following information regarding his proposal to install an electric vehicle (EV) charger:

  1. Precise details of the infrastructure to be installed, including materials, plans for cabling, etc.
  2. Details on how the installation will be carried out and any ancillary works required.
  3. Manner in which the charger will be connected to the common property switchboard and transformers.
  4. A second quote contemplating additional costs for connections across unallocated common property.
  5. Conditions addressing future maintenance issues and any additional insurance costs.
  6. Limits on the electrical capacity draw and suitable charging times, with evidence that such limits will address capacity impacts.
  7. Offer to bear the costs of an independent fire engineer to assess fire risk and advise on prevention mechanisms.
  8. Confirmation from the insurer regarding any exclusions, costs, or availability due to the installation, and a proposal to ensure compliance with insurer’s standards.
  9. Details on whether electricity will be supplied directly to the lot owner or on-supplied by the body corporate, and confirmation of compliance with Australian Energy Regulator (AER) requirements.
  10. Specification of the party responsible for electricity charges to the EV charging station.
  11. Specification of how electricity to the EV charging station will be measured.
  12. Details on the impact to other common property areas affected by the charging infrastructure.
  13. Reasonable and relevant conditions of approval, such as obtaining necessary approvals, preventing nuisance during works, bearing insurance premium increases, providing engineering reports, and recertifying any penetrations.
  14. Plans and details of the proposed improvement works.
  15. Expert advice substantiating the claim that limiting the charger to 10 amps will eliminate strain on infrastructure, and the manner of monitoring and enforcing the 10-amp limit.
  16. Confirmation that existing infrastructure like risers and cable trays have capacity for the required cabling.

The committee sought comprehensive information to assess the proposal’s feasibility, impact, and compliance with relevant standards and regulations.

Link to the adjudication order below:

About the Author: George Salloum

George Salloum