Lifting Charging Restrictions at Condos and HOAs
If your Maryland condominium or homeowners association ever said that you’re not allowed to install an EV charging station in your designated parking space, then you may soon have recourse. The General Assembly in Annapolis just passed a “Right to Charge” bill that would make Maryland the 9th state to remove such restrictions. The bill, (HB110) sponsored by Delegate Marc Korman of Montgomery County and cross-filed (SB144) by Senator Guy Guzzone of Howard County, is now headed to the Governor to be signed into law.
Maryland will join Florida, New York, Virginia, and five other states to prohibit HOAs and condo boards from arbitrarily denying permission for a homeowner to install an electric vehicle charging station. It would make void and unenforceable any covenants or restrictions of a condominium or homeowners association if they prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of electric vehicle recharging equipment in an owner’s deeded or designated parking space.
This bill gives homeowners the right to install a charging station in their parking spot as long as they pay for the costs of installation, maintenance, electricity and subsequent removal upon moving. Many people in Maryland live in housing that is governed by an HOA or condo board. Addressing the issue of charging at multi-family units is important to achieve the full potential of electric vehicle adoption in the state.
A Five Year Journey
This legislation has a history in Maryland going back at least five years. I’ve testified in support of Maryland Right to Charge since 2016. It seemed that the opposition from the HOA groups was strong and overwhelming back then. It seemed impossible to reconcile at the time. Consequently, the bills in 2016, 2017 and 2018 failed.
In late 2018, Del. Korman’s Legislative Aide reached out to me, given my past advocacy, for feedback on an initial draft of his version of a Right to Charge bill. I’d heard that Del. Korman had a track record of getting difficult legislation passed. He had just ushered through the Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act which was described as a historic victory. I was eager to support the Delegate’s efforts and hoped he could accomplish a similar miracle with his “Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment for Multifamily Units Act.” I’ve been working with his staff ever since to help get his legislation passed.
In 2019, Del. Korman’s Right to Charge bill (HB826) passed the House but stalled in the Senate. In 2020, HB111 passed in the House but didn’t get far in the Senate because of the General Assembly’s shortened session due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last fall, Del. Korman’s staff called me to say that he intended to pre-file the bill in advance of the 2021 session in order to have the advantage of an early hearing date. I contacted my Senator, Guy Guzzone, and asked if he would sponsor the cross-file of the bill. To my delight, Sen. Guzzone agreed and he similarly pre-filed SB144 in October.
Show and Tell Testimony
When the time came, Sen. Guzzone asked me to testify in support of the bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The COVID precautions of 2021 meant that all testimony was conducted via Zoom video. I decided to take advantage of that opportunity to “show” as well as tell. I took my mobile phone and set it on a tripod and stood in front of an EV charging station in order to show the Committee members exactly what a simple Level 2 charging station looks like. I knew from testifying in past years that some Committee members seemed unfamiliar with EV charging equipment and I figured that it might help for them to see it.
Another EV driver, Stephanie Golla, told a compelling story of her experience when she asked her homeowners association for permission to charge her electric vehicle at her townhouse community. Many other EV drivers and advocate groups sent in written testimony to support the Maryland Right-to-Charge effort. This is a good day for all who contributed to the success of this legislation. This is not necessarily the single cure-all solution for everyone who doesn’t have a single family home, but it’s a step in the right direction that will benefit many current and future Maryland EV drivers.
This law will take effect on October 1, 2021 pending the Governor’s approval.