Installing electrical vehicle (‘EV’) charging points on a freehold property is relatively straightforward, as the owner of the property also owns the land on which it is built. By contrast, a leaseholder essentially owns a right to occupy a property under the lease, but does not own the bricks and mortar of the property, nor the land around it. The freeholder generally restricts the leaseholder’s use of the property via regulations and covenants in order to protect their investment. B P Collins’ property team explores the options available to leaseholders.
When considering installing EV charge points as a leaseholder, the starting point must always be the lease. If a parking space is included within the demise of the property it may be possible install a charging unit in that parking space with the consent of the freeholder. However, parking spaces often form part of the freeholder’s title within the communal areas and are not allocated to a leaseholder. This throws up additional hurdles for the leaseholder, such as who takes responsibility for payment for the installation of the charging unit; the freeholder or the leaseholder. Adaptions to service charges may need to be taken into account to cover such costs.
It is likely that a leaseholder would require permission from the freeholder to install any EV charge point. Many leases restrict the construction of additional structures at the property, and so the freeholder may need to give a licence for alterations before any charging unit can be built. The lease may require variation to deal with any breach of lease terms and to incorporate any additional covenants and easements in relation to the charging units and any electrical cables running to the same.
With many leasehold properties, the electric meter is placed some distance from the car park where the EV charge point would be installed, and the electrical cables would need to be buried along the entire distance. It is often the case that this would be run through communal land, owned by the freeholder and therefore consent would be required for any works by the leaseholder.
Compared with owners of freehold properties, leaseholders have the burden of many additional costs. Most leases contain an obligation for the leaseholder to pay the freeholder’s fees in relation to any consents or licences, and any variations to the lease. If additional cabling is needed, the cost of the works would also fall on the leaseholder.
One solution is for freeholders to provide a number of communal EV charge points, which are covered by a service charge. This would take the individual burden off leaseholders, and would be spread among the block or development. Ultimately, the terms of the leases involved and the physical layout and management structure of the development will dictate what work is required and any associated costs. This is a rapidly evolving sector and will undoubtedly throw up further points to consider.