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  • Writer's pictureCHENG KHANG CHWEEN

Electric Vehicles ("EVs") and Strata Property Owners' Dilemma

Since the beginning of year 2024, prospective electric vehicle (“EV”) buyers in Malaysia have been spoilt for choices with the influx of reasonably priced Chinese-made EVs (brands such as BYD and Ora) which are challenging for sales against the well-known American-made Tesla. The rise in popularity of EVs is supported by the Government of Malaysia’s plans on becoming an EV leader in Southeast Asia which have resulted in full exemption of import duty, excise duty and sales tax for EVs until year end 2025. With such attractive incentives extended to prospective EV buyers, it is no wonder that EVs on the road are gradually but surely increasing. Certainly, that would also mean that EV owners would require EV charging facilities to be made available not only in public, but more importantly at their own residence.

The question is: Are EV owners living in stratified condominiums or apartments allowed to arbitrarily install the EV charger at their parking lots?

Strata property owners, especially owners of strata condominiums or apartments, should be wary that although they may engage professional EV charger installers to assist them with the installation of the EV chargers, the installation cannot be done according to the owner’s whims and fancies with disregard to the laws regulating strata living. For starters, the owner may not even own the car park parcel where he parks his vehicle daily. If that is the case, logic would dictate that he would not be allowed to simply install the EV charger on a property which does not belong to him. For the owner to properly ascertain whether the car park is owned by him or merely “allocated” to him for usage, a reference would have to be made to the strata title or otherwise known as “hakmilik strata” of his own property. If it is indeed true that the car park is owned by him, then the title would indicate the car park lot number accompanied with words written as “petak aksesori”.

Even if he is indeed the owner of the accessory car park, it still does not mean that he can rightfully install the EV charger to the pillar next to his accessory car park. Section 4 of the Strata Titles Act 1985 defines accessory parcel as any parcel shown in the strata plan as an accessory parcel which is intended to be used in conjunction with his own property parcel. The parcel is therefore limited to the plot itself only. The EV charger which would naturally be installed on a pillar or structure beside the car park to serve the EV would therefore normally encroach into the common property to the building. Common property would mean all those areas not comprised in or demarcated as parcels used or capable of being used or enjoyed in common by the occupiers of the strata property.[1] Examples would include the pillars, poles, lifts, refuse chutes, drains, sewers, pipes, wires, cables, ducts and all other facilities and installations being used or enjoyed by all parcel owners. Therefore, analogically speaking, the parcel owner can only own and have control of his car park plot but not the pillar beside the car park, subject always to the adherence of the by-laws and house rules of the building. The parcel owner cannot bring the argument that he is entitled to install his EV charger “on” his own accessory parcel as he deems fit since installation of the same would involve some drilling and installations into pillars next to his accessory parcel.

Therefore, should the parcel owner stubbornly insist on installation of the EV charger to serve his EV at his accessory parcel, he would do so at his own peril as he would be encroaching into common property. This may attract penalties as may be stipulated and imposed upon him as written in the by-laws or house rules of the building.

To ascertain whether a parcel owner is entitled to install the EV charger at his car park, he should first obtain a copy of the latest by-laws of the building. The by-laws can be obtained as easily as downloading the same from the neighbourhood app or requesting for a copy from the Management Office, to which the management body is strictly not allowed to refuse by virtue of the Strata Management Act 2013.[2] In certain circumstances, especially should the parcel owner notice that EV chargers have already been installed in other existing car parks, a resolution may have already been passed allowing for installation of EV charger in car parks, together with specific procedures on how to apply for installation, which would normally be enshrined as part of the by-laws. The applicant owner should resort to applying for installation of the EV charger according to the stipulated procedures. Should the management body reject the application without valid and lawful justification, the affected owner may then pursue the issue at the strata management tribunal to enforce performance of the by-law relating to EV chargers.[3]

In the unfortunate event that the by-law does not regulate the installation of EV chargers, the affected parcel owner may file a private motion for the parcel owners to vote and agree on the installation of EV chargers at the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM).[4]

To date, the Government of Malaysia has yet to pass any laws regulating the use of individual EV chargers in stratified buildings. However, the Department of Town and Country Planning (PLANMalaysia) had on 31.1.2024, published a guideline relating to EV charging bays which serves as planning guidelines for, among others, stratified properties.[5] It is worth noting that as a Government guideline merely serves as a guidance for public knowledge, it has no effect in law and is not binding.

[1] See: S. 4 Strata Titles Act 1985

[2] See: S. 70(4)(b) Strata Management Act 2013

[3] See: S. 70(7)(a) Strata Management Act 2013

[4] See: S.13 Second Schedule Strata Management Act 2013


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