Last year the government published a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 which included a commitment to a further £620m of investment into zero emission vehicle grants and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. This increased investment is essential given the government’s plan to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030 and the relatively slow installation of EV charging points to date compared to the increasing demand for electric cars.
As part of the government’s strategy to accelerate the roll out of EV charging points, the Department for Transport has recently published its response to a consultation from July 2019 which confirmed that the following measures will be introduced:
- New residential homes with associated parking within the site boundary must have at least one EV charging point per dwelling.
- New commercial buildings and existing commercial buildings undergoing major renovation with more than 10 parking spaces within the site boundary must have at least one EV charging point and cable routes for one in five of the total number of spaces so additional EV charging points can be installed at a future date.
- Residential buildings undergoing major renovation with more than 10 parking spaces within the site boundary must have at least one EV charging point for each dwelling with associated parking, and cable routes for additional EV charging points will be required in all spaces without charging points.
The installation of EV charging points at commercial properties is expected to make these properties more attractive to tenants which could result in higher rents and increased land value. In order to capitalise on this, many landowners are already installing EV charging points at their properties. For those that have not, the government’s recent announcements will make considering the installation of EV charging points unavoidable for many. There are some exemptions to the above measures, including an exemption for existing commercial buildings where the infrastructure costs exceed 7% of the total cost of the renovations. However, these exemptions are limited and so it is important for landowners to actively engage with the issue of EV charging points as soon as possible.
So what do landowners need to be thinking about when considering the installation of EV infrastructure?
Who will be responsible for the upfront costs of installation? The government investment into this area means that there are a number of grants available so it is important to consider if you are eligible to benefit from these.
2. Planning permission
The installation of EV charging points constitutes development under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and therefore requires planning permission. Certain types of installations fall within permitted development but may still be subject to stringent conditions. It is therefore important to take planning advice before commencing any works.
3. Other consents
Are any other third party consents required to install the EV charging points and associated cabling and other infrastructure? Landlord consent may be required if the party installing the EV charging points is not the landowner. The consent of occupational tenants may also be required if the infrastructure interferes with any rights already granted to them or their demise. Furthermore, bank consent may be required or neighbouring landowner consent could be required if cabling needs to run through third party land.
4. Electricity supply
Is the existing electricity supply sufficient for the EV charging point requirements, or will additional infrastructure be required such as an electricity substation? It is important to liaise with the Distribution Network Operator early to understand their requirements.
5. Occupational leases
Are there existing leases in place that prevent the works from being carried out, for example, are car parking areas demised to various tenants? Do leases include minimum numbers of car parking spaces that may be affected by the installation of EV infrastructure? Are you prohibited from altering the common parts? Any new leases that are granted will need to contain appropriate rights for the tenant to use the EV charging points.
How will the electricity be recharged to the tenants? Will the tenants have exclusive use of particular EV charging points that are metered to their demise or will they be used by a number of tenants and the costs recovered via the service charge? It is important that the lease sets out clearly how costs are to be recharged to the tenant.
Who will be responsible for the costs of any upgrades to the EV infrastructure that may be required in the future as a result of advances in technology? The lease should deal with this point to avoid disputes in the future.
Who will be responsible for maintaining the EV charging points? If there is an operator involved this obligation may be on them, but a tenant is likely to want an obligation from the landlord to maintain any EV charging points forming part of the common parts, or an obligation on the landlord to enforce any agreement with an operator to do so.
9. Rent reviews
Will the installations of EV charging points affect future rent reviews? We recommend taking advice from a surveyor in this respect.
10. Buildings insurance
The installation of EV charging points may affect the buildings insurance for the property so it is important to discuss this with your insurer or insurance broker before carrying out the works.
If you would like any further advice in connection with EV charging points or any other commercial property matter, please contact our commercial real estate team.