A common misconception amongst leaseholders is that they “own” their flats. Not true, they are merely leasing them for a substantial period of time, usually 100+ years. As such, any alterations or additions to a leasehold property require the consent of the landowner (Freeholder). This article considers the various legal issues that leaseholders should be aware of when seeking to install an electric vehicle charger.

Do I own my car parking space?

Probably not, again, the likelihood is that the car parking space is either demised as part of the lease, a separate lease or is allocated. If you don’t have rights to a car parking space, then you will need to approach the freeholder to seek rights to use land and/or buy land to use as a parking space. Either way, permission will likely be required from the freeholder.

Does the lease allow installation of an electric vehicle charger?

Firstly, you will need to check the parcels clause and plan of your lease which will define what is and isn’t included in the demise. As part of your planning, you may need to also consider the following:

  1. What does the lease say about alterations?

It is likely that your lease will contain an alterations covenant, and this will usually be a qualified covenant requiring permission from the freeholder and/or the residents management company (RMC). The freeholder or RMC cannot unreasonably withhold consent pursuant to the provisions of section 19 of the Landlord and tenants act 1927, however, if the charging infrastructure requires use of non-demised land (I.e., communal land), then the provisions of section 19 do not apply and permission is at the absolute discretion of the landowner.

If the installation of EV chargers either by individual leaseholders or freeholders as a communal facility breaches “absolute” covenants then it is possible that any landlord granting a licence to alter could be challenged a la Duval vs 11-13 Randolph Crescent. As such, if there is an absolute prohibition on alterations, then each and every party to the leases will need to agree to a lease amendment

  1. Are outside walls included in the lease?

Outside walls are presumed included unless expressly excluded from the demise but most modern leases WILL include an express exclusion. This is a consideration if you need to attach your electric charger to a wall.

  1. Is the subsoil included?

A consideration if you are looking to bury cables. Gorst v Knight [2018] EWHC 613 (Ch) is a cautionary tale. The tenant of a ground floor maisonette proposed to extend an existing cellar room by digging down into the subsoil beneath. The court examined the description of the demise in the lease and decided that the subsoil was not included.

  1. Can the costs of installation and ongoing maintenance be claimed via the service charge?

Probably not. Most leases won’t have considered EV infrastructure and it is Likely that deeds of covenant and/or lease amendments may be required to allow recovery of costs.