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Discussion Starter #1
OK the issue with the woman in Michigan having her garage plug cut by her condo board is really disturbing. In fact, as a Volt owner and condo resident, its down right infuriating.

As an attorney, I understand the issues and how the condo board is violating this owner's rights. -- I think that the time has come that there should be greater, direct advocacy for homeowners and tenants in similar situations. EV owners need to speak up and help.

It will, however, take some time and effort, and ability to research and offer assistance.

Are there any other attorneys, or other people on here interested in doing so?

I think I will be starting an EV policy and advocacy organization as part of this. The time has come -- no one else, outside of California's legislators, perhaps, has done much of anything to fight for access rights to charging for multiunit property residents.

Forgive the OT rant, but I just think something now needs to be done, rather than just continuing to leave every EV owner in a condo or apartment building to continue to fend for himself alone.
 

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HOA's often operate on the principle that all must look and act the same. Some people like trading free will for collective, enforced sameness in the hope it will insulate them from "undesireables". But what happens when you charge you car instead of filling it with gas? You become out of step with the collective ant-hill mindset, you become an undesirable.
 

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In Michigan, the average electrical rate is $.12 per Kw. If she fully charged her car every single day of the month, the total would be 31 X 0.12 X 11(approx), or $40.92. No way is $200 justified except out of spite.
 

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OK the issue with the woman in Michigan having her garage plug cut by her condo board is really disturbing. In fact, as a Volt owner and condo resident, its down right infuriating.

As an attorney, I understand the issues and how the condo board is violating this owner's rights. -- I think that the time has come that there should be greater, direct advocacy for homeowners and tenants in similar situations. EV owners need to speak up and help.

It will, however, take some time and effort, and ability to research and offer assistance.

Are there any other attorneys, or other people on here interested in doing so?

I think I will be starting an EV policy and advocacy organization as part of this. The time has come -- no one else, outside of California's legislators, perhaps, has done much of anything to fight for access rights to charging for multiunit property residents.

Forgive the OT rant, but I just think something now needs to be done, rather than just continuing to leave every EV owner in a condo or apartment building to continue to fend for himself alone.
Are you barred in Michigan? If not, do you really have a complete understanding of the law and the facts in this matter?
 

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Reasonable people should be able to reach equitable solutions to such problems before threatening legal action. There are too many bigger problems in this world.

Several states, including CA and HI, have laws in place that govern the rights and obligations related to EVSE installed on common use property such as at shopping malls, HOAs, etc. Those could serve as a model or as a basis for discussion between this resident and her board.

See, for example, CA Civil Code Section 4745 at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=04001-05000&file=4700-4745 or HI Act 186 HRS 196-7.5 (2010) at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol03_Ch0121-0200D/HRS0196/HRS_0196-0007_0005.htm

KNS
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Illinois. However the old grey matter still functions even across the small pond. Their condo property act or similar laws should function roughly similarly to ours. Hence the shout out to others for assistance. (If need be I could always be admitted there pro hac vice temporarily -- however its far from that). These issues, and the laws involved, will need review in each case where such incidences occur.

The key isn't what's 'right' or wrong, or equitable, or cost of power, etc. It's really what's written in her condo decs and bylaws and Michigan law. Those will control and need to be reviewed. And if similar to the condo property laws here, this board overstepped its authority and is liable for what it did. Especially unilaterally cutting off her garage's electricity, which could be deemed a trespass on chattel, the outlet in the garage space deeded to her.
 

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The last thing we need now is for people to lawyer up and go down the litigation road. If you want to plug your car in, do your prep work, get the association on board by pointing out how positive it will be for them to be out front on this issue. And offer to pay 110% of what the electricity costs the condo.
The only winners in litigation are the attorneys, everyone else loses.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
The last thing we need now is for people to lawyer up and go down the litigation road. If you want to plug your car in, do your prep work, get the association on board by pointing out how positive it will be for them to be out front on this issue. And offer to pay 110% of what the electricity costs the condo.
The only winners in litigation are the attorneys, everyone else loses.
I strongly, but also respectfully disagree.

Condo owners should be polite and attempt to work out something with their boards, where possible -- which this lady clearly tried to do, and was totally, unreasonably rebuffed -- but they should also know their rights and be prepared to fight to enforce them. If a board is trying to screw over a condo EV owner, who pays a monthly assessment to have his rights respected, then the owner should darned well fight for them. Why should condo owners rights be trampled on or they be forced to pay unfair fees not imposed on other owners?

This meansprirted, ignorant board in Michigan most certainly violated the condo decs and bylaws and likely mirroring provisions of state condo law and are, rightly, subject to liability. Specifically, they: 1.) admittedly permitted all condo owners to freely use the 110v electrical outlets in their individual deeded garage spaces (exclusively by each person), and likely this has been going on since the time of original construction or conversion to condos. So everyone bought into the building knowing this right to freely use the building amenity existed. 2.) The use of such outlets was never metered or charged for, including by condo residents admittedly plugging in refrigerators/deep freezes, or possibly engine block heaters, lights, garage openers, power tools, vacuums, etc. They were never persecuted for their electrical use, which for refrigerators/freezers etc., can be quite substantial.

Condos cant selectively charge one owner more for disproportionate use, or perceived disproportionate use of amenities. (Allowing installation of new EVSE equipment or outlets is a different story). Condominiums and other cooperative arrangements cannot charge residents more for such legitimate added use any more than they can charge extra for families having more children (vastly higher water use and wear and tear on the common elements). Condo expenses are communally shared and if one owner disproportionately uses more services or amenities, well so be it, it must be shared by all. That's why its a condo, not a single family home. EV use, from existing, 110v outlets that all owners have free access to, does not fall under any traditional prohibitions in such cases (such as an owner running a business, industrial use, etc.,), and so cant simply be banned by the board or additionally billed for. In fact, it may take a supermajority vote of each unit owner, beyond the power of the board itself, to even attempt to do so. Changing the use of such a common area amenity or part of the property may very well mandate it.

Likewise, the board cannot surcharge any electricity costs anyway -- it likely violates state and other regulatory laws forbidding the reselling of electricity in such a fashion. A board's violation of law is a breach of fiduciary duty and subjects it to additional liability.
This condo board is breaching its fiduciary duties, violating the rights of an owner, and trespassing on the owner's chattel (disconnecting her garage's outlet).

In short, this board is in serious trouble and should be held fully accountable. She should absolutely enforce her rights -- before her extension cord out the window thing ends up electrocuting her or someone else!
 

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I strongly, but also respectfully disagree.

Condo owners should be polite and attempt to work out something with their boards, where possible -- which this lady clearly tried to do, and was totally, unreasonably rebuffed -- but they should also know their rights and be prepared to fight to enforce them. If a board is trying to screw over a condo EV owner, who pays a monthly assessment to have his rights respected, then the owner should darned well fight for them. Why should condo owners rights be trampled on or they be forced to pay unfair fees not imposed on other owners?

This meansprirted, ignorant board in Michigan most certainly violated the condo decs and bylaws and likely mirroring provisions of state condo law and are, rightly, subject to liability. Specifically, they: 1.) admittedly permitted all condo owners to freely use the 110v electrical outlets in their individual deeded garage spaces (exclusively by each person), and likely this has been going on since the time of original construction or conversion to condos. So everyone bought into the building knowing this right to freely use the building amenity existed. 2.) The use of such outlets was never metered or charged for, including by condo residents admittedly plugging in refrigerators/deep freezes, or possibly engine block heaters, lights, garage openers, power tools, vacuums, etc. They were never persecuted for their electrical use, which for refrigerators/freezers etc., can be quite substantial.

Condos cant selectively charge one owner more for disproportionate use, or perceived disproportionate use of amenities. (Allowing installation of new EVSE equipment or outlets is a different story). Condominiums and other cooperative arrangements cannot charge residents more for such legitimate added use any more than they can charge extra for families having more children (vastly higher water use and wear and tear on the common elements). Condo expenses are communally shared and if one owner disproportionately uses more services or amenities, well so be it, it must be shared by all. That's why its a condo, not a single family home. EV use, from existing, 110v outlets that all owners have free access to, does not fall under any traditional prohibitions in such cases (such as an owner running a business, industrial use, etc.,), and so cant simply be banned by the board or additionally billed for. In fact, it may take a supermajority vote of each unit owner, beyond the power of the board itself, to even attempt to do so. Changing the use of such a common area amenity or part of the property may very well mandate it.

Likewise, the board cannot surcharge any electricity costs anyway -- it likely violates state and other regulatory laws forbidding the reselling of electricity in such a fashion. A board's violation of law is a breach of fiduciary duty and subjects it to additional liability.
This condo board is breaching its fiduciary duties, violating the rights of an owner, and trespassing on the owner's chattel (disconnecting her garage's outlet).

In short, this board is in serious trouble and should be held fully accountable. She should absolutely enforce her rights -- before her extension cord out the window thing ends up electrocuting her or someone else!
Michigan Condo Law...
559.169 Assessment of common expenses; contribution of co-owner.
Sec. 69. (1) Except to the extent that the condominium documents provide otherwise, common expenses associated with the maintenance, repair, renovation, restoration, or replacement of a limited common element shall be specially assessed against the condominium unit to which that limited common element was assigned at the time the expenses were incurred. If the limited common element involved was assigned to more than 1 condominium unit, the expenses shall be specially assessed against each of the condominium units equally so that the total of the special assessments equals the total of the expenses, except to the extent that the condominium documents provide otherwise.
(2) To the extent that the condominium documents expressly so provide, any other unusual common expenses benefiting less than all of the condominium units, or any expenses incurred as a result of the conduct of less than all those entitled to occupy the condominium project or by their licensees or invitees, shall be specially assessed against the condominium unit or condominium units involved, in accordance with reasonable provisions as the condominium documents may provide.
(3) The amount of all common expenses not specially assessed under subsections (1) and (2) shall be assessed against the condominium units in proportion to the percentages of value or other provisions as may be contained in the master deed for apportionment of expenses of administration.
(4) A co-owner shall not be exempt from contributing as provided in this act by nonuse or waiver of the use of any of the common elements or by abandonment of his or her condominium unit.
History: 1978, Act 59, Eff. July 1, 1978;Am. 2000, Act 379, Imd. Eff. Jan. 2, 2001;Am. 2002, Act 283, Imd. Eff. May 9, 2002.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-act-59-of-1978.pdf
 

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The HOA has two problems. One is that by singling out her car and not refrigerators and so forth it is treating her differently than everyone else. Two is that simple math will tell you that her offer of $50 is reasonable and its claim of $200 is off the wall.

If the board members had brains they would have taken her $50 and been done with it.
 

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The HOA has two problems. One is that by singling out her car and not refrigerators and so forth it is treating her differently than everyone else. Two is that simple math will tell you that her offer of $50 is reasonable and its claim of $200 is off the wall.

If the board members had brains they would have taken her $50 and been done with it.
The Board obviously has a Tea Party member who thinks President Obama invented the Volt.

It will turn out that no reasonable offer will be accepted and the owner has to go to court. It would be nice if Volt owners who are lawyers help out, because that would shift the dynamic. The POA will have to pay real legal fees, which can be substantial in a case that breaks new ground in the state. The Board will then have to explain to the owners why the $150/month disagreement is worth thousands of dollars in legal fees. If the judge says that if you charge for cars, you must charge for freezers, that is icing on the cake.

Once it becomes expensive to harass EV owners, the word will get around and it will stop. BTW, I think that a judge can allow out of state lawyers to handle a specific case. See My Cousin Vinny. :)
 

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In Michigan, the average electrical rate is $.12 per Kw. If she fully charged her car every single day of the month, the total would be 31 X 0.12 X 11(approx), or $40.92. No way is $200 justified except out of spite.
$200 is way out of line when comparing to home electricity rates. However, when comparing to the chargers down at Walgreens, $200 starts to sound closer to the going rate. Naturally I think what the HOA and Walgreens are doing with EVSE charge rates amounts to highway robbery. "Fair market value" seems a misnomer in both cases... more like "unfair market value".
 

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BTW, I think that a judge can allow out of state lawyers to handle a specific case. See My Cousin Vinny. :)
Yes, Mikeg3, but 1) the tribunal has to approve the pro hac vice application, 2) the out-of-state JD has to pay fees, and 3) s/he has to associate himself with a local attorney who files an appearance in the case. But yes, it can be done.
 

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$50 per month or $200 for the FIVE month period stated is quite reasonable request by the HOA. She charges using a 120v line so a daily full charge would cost around $50 per month. A reasonable person (and HOA) would have gotten a measurement of the power used for a full charge. Then assume daily full charges unless a meter shows otherwise.
 

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I will be very interested in how this turns out, especially if Hyperlexis gets involved. The issue is how much extra the charging of the EV actually cost, and both sides ought to at least have an idea, since the HOA gets the electric bill and the EV owner, being an investigator for an attorney's office, probably knows how to find out, even if the HOA isn't forthcoming with the facts. She apparently charged her car for 4 or 5 months before the HOA took action. $50 is more than enough money for one month of charging, but if that is all it cost for 5 months, she doesn't drive very much.

The news articles haven't given enough data to decide who is right, but their purpose often is not to answer questions, but to get people interested (and to attract people to their advertisements). How the HOA determined that the entire $200 extra they claim they paid is due to the EV and not to, say, someone leaving their refrigerator door open as well, is beyond me, but they had better be prepared to present more documentation than they probably have in their possession to substantiate the special assessment.

The garages are considered part of the common area, and likely have one electric meter for all of them, but one unit is clearly allocated to her. I don't know whether she pays a monthly fee for it or whether cutting off electricity to that unit encroaches on her property, but others here are attorneys, and I'm not. I'm looking forward to seeing how this is resolved.
 

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I remember a few years back, there was a big to-do regarding satellite dishes. HOA's and rental owners eventually lost that battle (at least they did in KY/IN, check local listings for your part of the world). I sincerely think it's just a matter of time.

But c'mon. $200/month? That's not a usage fee. That's an ego stroker.
 

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The EV owner claims that the HOA is charging a 300% markup on the electricity she used for the 5-month period. She notified the board that she would be charging her car in the garage ahead of time. The Transport Evolved article says the garage is included in the deeds to her home, so she apparently isn't renting it. The HOA covenant apparently says that the electricity used in the garages is paid for from the HOA fees paid monthly by every resident, and shared equally. If her assessment of her electric use is accurate, then she doesn't drive much. Maybe she takes public transportation to work? In that case, her use is probably in line with what other owners' refrigerators are using.

It really doesn't look like the board has a legal leg to stand on. When an HOA board's power play turns into an international scandal, things have a way of working out, and it doesn't look like the Volt owner is inclined to back down.
 

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people are missing

$200 is way out of line when comparing to home electricity rates. However, when comparing to the chargers down at Walgreens, $200 starts to sound closer to the going rate. Naturally I think what the HOA and Walgreens are doing with EVSE charge rates amounts to highway robbery. "Fair market value" seems a misnomer in both cases... more like "unfair market value".
It's $200 total for 5 months of use. That's in line for allowing charging every day. $ 0.13/kwh* 13kwh/day *30 days = $50.6/ month
 

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It's $200 total for 5 months of use. That's in line for allowing charging every day. $ 0.13/kwh* 13kwh/day *30 days = $50.6/ month
The article I read said: "the HOA wanted $200 a month." http://www.greencarreports.com/news...chevy-volt-charging-owner-balks-power-cut-off

The Board is basically terminally brain dead. If you feel strongly about it, issue an assessment. Don't cut off her electricity. I doubt they have the power to do that and even if they do it's a losing approach.

The truth is that it's not worth the bother of trying to apportion costs like these. A refrigerator might use as much electricity as she is using. Are you going to start peeking in windows trying to see what people are doing in their garages?
 

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GreenCarReports is wrong. The original article says:

"Forte agreed to pay around $50, the amount she says DTE charged for her added electricity over the five month period. Forte says the HOA wanted $200, and when she didn't pay, they cut off power to her garage."

The original reporters that actually talked to the parties say the dispute is over the cost of electricity over a five month period, and the words "per month" were never used. GreenCarReports cited the WXYZ article and then misstated the facts.

The board is still terminally brain dead, and $50 for five months seems a little low, but no one is reporting how much the Volt owner actually drove. It's interesting that GreenCarReports calculates that the amount the board wants is 150 full charges at the national average price of electricity, 5 months charging 30 times per month. Did the board actually calculate the maximum amount of electricity the driver could have used during that time and try to get her to pay that much, instead of the actual amount she used?

Gouging, indeed.
 
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