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Electric Cars, Insurance and Mayhem?

Who would have thought all this climate change “hoo ha” would impact our property business.

It’s inevitable - Electric cars are on the rise and we have landlords will eventually have a role to play in providing tenants with the convenient means of charging them.

Cue the role of the electric charging point. Now I myself have had a plug in hybrid for many years now, so understand the drama with getting the charging point installed. Single lets, electric family cars - I understand. HMOs, I didn’t expect it to hit me so soon.

Now the different between the two is that single lets - the tenant pays for electric, HMOs, I pay for the electric as the landlord. I generally wouldn’t have an issue - until the price of gas and in turn electric has sky rocketed through the roof. I also don’t pay for the petrol for any of my other tenants, so why as a landlord, should I pay for the electric if my HMO tenant has decided to buy an electric car?

So here in turn is the dilemma.

My HMO tenant bought an electric car and has a parking space around the back. He didn’t exactly tell me about it until I discovered a charge lead in the kitchen upon a routine inspection. So, I thought, this is going to be an interesting conversation. After asking for opinion on this delicate situation - given this tenant is actually a very good tenant, I had 2 main concerns.

1) Fire Safety: As the charge lead was effectively daisy chaining from an external changing point.

2) Usage: Who would pay for it and how would you measure it for it to be fair?

I understand why they are good for the environment and they should be encouraged. Afterall, I have a plug in myself. This will only become more and more common as time goes on and more government incentives to go green.

I had to ensure that from a Fire Safety point of view, this would be OK. Not particularly. We should be minimising the use of extension cords where possible. But the big kicker? After checking with insurance broker, our insurance policy does not cover vehicle charging via socket (in the event that it blows up and catches on fire). It would need to be connected via an actual electric vehicle charger attached to an external wall of the house.

On top of that, from a usage point of view, it would be difficult to determine how many times and how long each charge was as it’s not separately metered.

That very quickly - went that idea. In the whole essence of going green, the practicality of it in a HMO is very difficult and would require significant cost and infrastructure in order to make it viable. We had to tell our tenant, unfortunately, he would need to charge his car at an external rapid charger point.

However, the government is rolling out an incentive - a £350 grant to contribute to the cost of getting a charger installed (which is about £700 - £1000 depending on the distance from the fuse board). To me, the upgrade would be viable on a single let where it’s a small cost to the convenience to the tenant but also adds value to the property long term.

But in a HMO, unless there was an agreement beforehand that £x was additional to rent to cover the cost of electric and give a very small proportion of HMO tenants would have an electric car and an appropriately positioned car space, we are a while off before we see the benefit of a car charging point being installed.

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