The Times has recently reported that “More than half of new cars sold in the UK will have to be electric within five years, the government will confirm. The decision reinforces previous targets despite speculation that they might be weakened after Rishi Sunak watered down some net-zero policies”. This comes as the prime minister said last week that he was delaying a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales from 2030 to 2035 because of the shortage of public charging points and the cost of building the necessary infrastructure.
London is ahead of the curve having made it expensive for cars with high emissions to drive through central London with the introduction to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). Electric cars are expected to become the norm going forward.
The infrastructure for electric cars is expanding. Landlords have for some time been installing electric charging points within car parks at their buildings and on their estates, to form part of the package of services available to tenants.
If you are a landlord looking to install an electric charging point, what matters should you take into consideration?
- Is the space that you have identified for the charging point already demised to a tenant? If so, is there an alternative space you could utilise? Or, could you agree that the relevant tenant surrenders their rights to you in exchange for a premium?
- Have you granted a general right to the tenants of the building / estate to use the spaces within the car park? If so, have you reserved rights, in each of the tenant leases, to install electric charging points or vary the number of spaces on offer to the tenants?
- How are you going to pay for the installation and maintenance of the charging points? Are the service charge provisions in each of the tenant leases broad enough to enable you to recharge such costs to the tenants? Are there any service charge caps which might impair your ability to recover the full cost of installation and maintenance of the charging points from the tenants?
- Are there any governmental grants / subsidies available to you to cover the costs of installing the charging point?
- Who is going to have rights to use the electric charging points? Will this only be the tenants of the building / estate? Or, is this to be the general public? Would this cause a nuisance to the tenants?
- If you have a leasehold interest in the building / estate, do you need any consents from your superior landlord to install the charging point?
- Similarly, if your interest is charged to the bank, have you checked that their consent is not required to install the charging point?
- How are you going to charge for the day-to-day use of the charging point?
- If an electric charging point provider has approached you to install a charging point on the estate / in the building, how are you going to document their occupation so as to avoid them obtaining security of tenure?
- Is planning permission required to install the charging point?
- Is any other cabling required to connect the charging point to mains electricity?
- How are you going to ensure that the charging point does not exceed the estate / building's power capacity?
- Have you checked with the insurers as to whether the presence of a charging point affects the building insurance policy and any third party liability cover that you may have?
There are quite a few matters that landlords will need to grapple with, but with the growing popularity of electric cars, it is becoming increasingly necessary for landlords to install electric charging points.