How to get your landlord to install EV chargers

A Chevy Spark at an apartment complex without dedicated charging

Say you’re living in the perfect apartment: great price, awesome location, and right next to your favorite park… Except it’s far from perfect because you’re planning to buy an EV and your apartment complex doesn’t have any at-home charging options.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard of women frustrated by this situation as EV adoption grows and the infrastructure isn’t in place to support at-home charging for renters. Here a few of my thoughts on how to convince your landlord to install EV chargers: 

Know your rental facts. There’s nothing better than coming prepared to a (potentially) tough conversation with your landlord, so try to get to know their point of view ahead of time by doing your background research on their situation.   

What type of landlord owns and oversees the property? This can greatly influence how your landlord views EV charging or if the person you’re speaking with has that much decision-making power to put your request into motion. The US rental market consists of two broad sets of landlords: the large institutional owner (aka businesses) and the independent owner (“mom and pop”). There are roughly 10 to 11 million independent landlords across the country who collectively own 54% of the 44 million occupied rental units in the US. Independent owners are more likely to own single family and duplex rental homes, whereas institutional to own multifamily rental properties. Independent landlords are usually the sole decision makers. Larger corporations may use a management company over multiple properties, generally have a more complex decision making process, and often follow policy guidance from associations. Check to see if your landlord is involved with any state or national associations and if these offer EV resources. An excellent resource is the American Apartment Owners Association’s guide for property owners considering installing chargers onsite. 

These two general types of landlords have different cash flows and payback periods, which in turn influences how the investing owner assesses the risks around installing or providing EV charging. If installing EV charging stations for a “mom and pop” owner requires significant investment with a lengthy return, this may be more of a deterrent than say a larger institutional owner who can easily manage the up-front costs. On the other hand, an independent landlord may be more flexible and open to providing charging through a third party, whereas multifamily rentals may shy away from installing chargers by citing concerns that they can’t equally provide access to all renting tenants. 

Have EV resources for your landlord ready to go. I’d recommend heading into the conversation with your landlord with an open mind while having EV resources at the ready. It’s worth asking if they have thought of installing EV charging before. What were some of their hesitations or concerns? Charged Future outlines several common questions that landlords have and how to answer them. Let your landlord know that charging stations can make properties more attractive to rent and keep units occupied, not to mention provide an additional income from EV-using renters (who are often willing to pay more to charge at home). EV owners tend to be high value tenants and installing chargers is a way to differentiate amongst other properties in the face of ever increasing EV ownership. 

Feel free to use this email template from Chargepoint to initiate the conversation with your landlord.  Ideally it can prompt a discussion about why EV charging is critical for your needs – and why it can benefit your landlord’s business model as well. Here are a few different charging solutions that you could pitch: 

  • The landlord agrees to access to existing electricity outlets in the garage or charging parking spaces in the apartment complex. The EV is charged using the building’s meter with consumption tracked through a usage monitor (which costs ~$20 on Amazon) or as a flat cost negotiated up-front for the tenant. While this isn’t as costly for a landlord to install, it can require more coordination between the renter and landlord and has the potential to allow only certain parking spaces and tenants to use the outlets.  
  • The landlord installs new EV charging infrastructure either to new or existing parking spaces, usually with the help of a third party. Third party EV charging companies are well equipped at pitching to landlords. They can offer software solutions that make integration easy and may even cover some of the up-front costs. EVPassport and Chargepoint are two examples of companies that market to apartment complexes and offer to manage the individual electricity consumption, billing, and maintenance as a third-party. In addition, there are local and state financial incentives for landlords to install EV charging infrastructure. These include funding for landlords and/or tax credits and rebates. Check Enel X to see what is available in your area. 
  • The renter secures an apartment that is conveniently located to parking lot access and runs an extension cord to the car for Level 1 charging. While this is cumbersome for renters, it often doesn’t require additional legwork on the landlord’s part. 
  • The renter pays for all or half of the up-front costs of an EV charging installation. If there are multiple tenants interested in using the charging station, they could split costs amongst several EV users and share the parking space. I’d recommend installing a charger that has at least two charging outlets and access to two parking spaces for multiple users. This is obviously a much more expensive investment for the renter(s), so I’d use this as a last-resort since you can’t take it with you when you move! 

Finally – get involved and advocate for EV access in your local community. The e-mobility trend is only increasing, but it’s evident that there’s an equity issue when homeowners are more than 3 times more likely to own an EV compared to renters. Getting better access to EV charging infrastructure as a renter is not just up to landlords. Location also greatly impacts whether or not landlords are first-adopters or late-comers to the EV movement. You may have the right to charge at your apartment thanks to your state legislation. As a general observation, states and cities with high EV demand are more likely to offer charging as an amenity, and more rural areas may not have charging on their radar at all. 

I encourage you to get involved in your local politics and community to advocate for increased EV adoption and EV charging access. Talking to your politicians, local leaders, and business owners about the need for more equitable EV charging gets renters one step closer to benefitting from the EV movement. 

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