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B.C. strata turns off power on electric vehicle owner

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal says an EV owner living in a strata complex can't plug his car into a parkade outlet as part of his use of common property.
Electric vehicle charging
A strata owner makes the argument that using a common-property outlet is OK because he's part owner.

A Vancouver strata owner who charged his electric vehicle (EV) using a parking stall outlet won’t be allowed to do that anymore.

That’s the decision from B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, which said March 24 that Ian Wong saw power turned off to the outlet by his strata corporation.

He asked the tribunal to decide that the power should be turned back on in exchange for a ‘reasonable fee.’

The strata, however, denied Wong is entitled to use its common electricity to charge his vehicle.

The tribunal agreed there was no requirement to let Wong use common property.

The strata said it has now passed a rule prohibiting EV charging through any 110-volt common property outlet.

The strata said Wong has the option of charging his vehicle at the strata’s common property EV charging stations in a different parkade.

The strata was created in 1989 and contains both residential and commercial lots. Wong became a residential owner in 2015. He bought a plug-in hybrid vehicle in February 2021.

On April 1, 2021, Wong asked a property manager to advise the strata council he had been charging his vehicle. He estimated how much electricity he was using and its cost and asked how he could compensate the strata for the electricity. And he was ready to attend a strata council meeting to answer any questions.

Six weeks later, the power was turned off. It has not been turned back on despite Wong’s requests.

Wong argued the parkade outlet is common property and that he is entitled to use it to charge his vehicle as he is part owner of that property. There is no bylaw prohibiting such use, he said.

The strata manager said the electrical cord required to charge Wong’s vehicle from the outlet created a potential tripping hazard.

In a December special general meeting notice to all owners, the strata proposed a new bylaw limiting EV charging to designated charging stations only. The bylaw prohibits EV charging from any common property standard 110/120-volt electrical outlet.

“If the bylaw is enforceable, I find it would prohibit Mr. Wong from charging his hybrid vehicle with the common outlet near his parking stall,” tribunal member Sherelle Goodwin said.

Indeed, Goodwin said, the availability of charging stations elsewhere in the complex does not prevent Wong from charging his hybrid vehicle. The tribunal member said the decision to turn off the power was not “significantly unfair.”

Citing an earlier decision, Goodwin said there is no obligation for a strata corporation to make any common property electrical outlets available for owners to use.

As such, she found the strata is not required to allow Wong to charge up.

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