We continue our sustainability in property management series with a quick look back at our last article where we began to look at urban mobility. We spoke to Derek McDonald at Newton Property Management about their initiative to install EV charging points across their portfolio. It’s a forward-thinking undertaking that’s already paying off for the company and its clients. But it’s not without its challenges.
We had such an insightful conversation with Derek that we wanted to share more with you and to add to the conversation before he goes off to pastures new, we asked Dr. Nigel Glen, the incumbent CEO of ARMA, what his thoughts were on the topic of urban mobility.
“There is likely one big challenge to helping urban mobility – and that is the lease. Installing bike storage, and certainly, EV charging points with all the rewiring they entail, are probably viewed as improvements and hence cannot be charged against the service charge as the latter is a repair and maintenance function. So, how can you provide a communal approach?”
And who better to offer some insight into these challenges, than Derek at Newton Property Management.
Going down electric avenue
“It sounds like the situation in England, Wales, and NI is very similar to Scotland. Newton’s current solution is simple, but ultimately a stopgap.” Derek told us.
How (and why!) is Newton able to forge ahead with installing EV charging points?
“We install our own charging units and pay for the maintenance and upkeep. The only thing the resident pays for is the use of the electricity. This is charged at the same rate as the communal supply from which the electricity is drawn from. When we receive payment for the electricity consumed (from the `vend`) we credit it against the service charge (common charge) accounts so that it nets off.
Under Scottish Titles, the owners (the tenants in the rest of the UK) can vote collectively to apply to have the title deeds changed through the lands tribunal but of course, this is time-consuming, costly, and littered with potential challenges. Other solutions to agree on the install are available, but this requires direct coordination between all of the flat owners.
I don’t know what is happening elsewhere but the Scottish government recently received a recommendation from an independent working group advising on the long-term upkeep of flats. It was noted that Scottish legislation should be amended to change the installation of EV chargers from an `addition`, to ‘maintenance’, which would simply require a majority vote of all owners concerned.
Due to the Scottish government timetable, it’s unlikely this would be put into Tenements law until at least 2025, which for many is too late. Hence our plan to help move this forward. That’s how important we think it is.”
Overcoming barriers of installing EV charging points
ARMA produced a report in 2018 looking at the installation of EV charging points. The following was highlighted:
“Therefore, you will need to take the following into consideration when approaching your property manager:
- Is it physically possible – Do you have the basic information about the location of your electric feed and your parking space? Can a cable be run between the two points? What are the obstacles? The onus will be on you to prove their case.
- Who owns the car parking space? Is the parking space demised to the property through the land registry or is it via a separate license agreement?
- Do you need to get permission from your landlord? Or if you only have a license to occupy, do you need to seek legal advice?”
The considerations presented by ARMA place the responsibility onto the owners/tenants to organise the installation. But as we have seen with Newton, Property Managers can be the catalysts for change as Derek realises,
“We have to upgrade technologically to stay relevant. In 10 years’ time, when ULEZ’s and LEZ’s will allow for electric cars only, what happens to the value of flats in the city centre and on the outskirts? People will start demanding charging points and expecting them as part of their property. This is urgent. Not just from an environmental perspective but for the health of the housing market.”
Newton Property Management is investing heavily in their clients and the future of their portfolio. They are footing the bill of the rollout but they will be the ones who benefit greatly when electric vehicles become the norm.
“We’re on the cusp of instructing a load-managed EV charging system to a development of 75 car parking spaces. The first retrofit of its kind in Scotland. It’s an exciting time!”
With leaders like Derek showing how to overcome the challenges of EV charging points, it makes the process much easier for everyone in the industry. Those who lead the way are sure to reap the rewards when every car on the road is electric.
The UK Government’s recent announcement to offer £50 million of funding to support landlords and leaseholders, it would appear that financing the upgrade could be one solution that’s being resolved.
“The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which provides up to £350 towards a charge point, will continue next year and be expanded to target people in rented and leasehold accommodation.”
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