Frankfurt For Elon Musk, the matter is decided. When he was recently asked to comment on the car drive system of the future in Berlin, the Tesla boss didn’t think twice about it. “Definitely electric,” he announced cheerfully. More and more Germans seem to see this in a similar way.
Almost a quarter of Germans want to switch to an electric vehicle soon, the management consultancy Bearing Point recently stated in its new “Electromobility trend barometer”.
For this reason, many manufacturers are putting more and more new e-cars in the spotlight at the current IAA auto show. The change is also causing many tenants and owners to rethink their approach. They need to deal more urgently with the question of how to charge such a car at home. Because the charging infrastructure in particular is still a bottleneck in many cases.
Furnishing may be even less of a problem for single-family homeowners with a garage. But what rights do owners and tenants in apartment buildings have to a so-called wallbox?
What is allowed – and what is not? The following is an overview of the most important points that interested parties should know.
1. What actually is a wallbox?
A wallbox is a small charging station that can be installed at the workplace, in the garage or on the wall of the house. It allows electric cars to be charged more quickly than at conventional sockets, where this process can take several hours. According to ADAC, a three-phase 11 kW wallbox, with which all electric cars can be charged well, is ideal.
Installation is straightforward in most cases, but installation should be done by a skilled electrician. According to the energy supplier EnBW, the costs for wallboxes are usually between 500 and 2,000 euros, depending on the charging capacity and range of functions. These are just the pure purchase prices, plus the installation and connection costs for an electrician.
2. Can owners in an apartment building request an installation?
Basically yes. Since the reform of the Condominium Act (WEG) at the end of last year, every owner has in principle the right to install a charging station for electric vehicles on the property or in the garage.
“As the owner, I can therefore request the installation of such a system – and the community cannot deny me this request,” says Julia Wagner, a lawyer at the Haus & Grund Germany home owners association. Previously, the connection of a wallbox in shared underground garages was usually only possible with the consent of all apartment owners. However, e-drivers are not allowed to simply attach the box without involving the owners’ meeting.
“It is important that I inform the community about such a plan in advance and make a formal decision about it,” emphasizes Wagner. “Despite the change in the law, I am not allowed to simply rush ahead and install a wallbox.”
The community of owners cannot reject the application, but still has to formally decide on the measure. “An owners’ meeting is therefore still necessary,” said Martin Kaßler, Managing Director of the Association of Real Estate Managers Germany (VDIV). The co-owners must also decide whether the measure will be carried out at the community’s expense and whether rights of use will be granted to all owners.
Otherwise, the applicant bears the installation costs alone – which, however, also grants him the sole right to use the charging station. But the costs can quickly add up.
“In older buildings in particular, the electrical system has to be re-installed quickly, as the old cables can in some cases no longer bear the high loads – that can quickly turn into money,” warns Wagner. Owners in particular should therefore look around for fellow campaigners in the community who support the plans and also participate in the bills that arise later.
3. What is the situation like with tenants?
It has also become easier for tenants to install a wallbox. With the entry into force of the Apartment Modernization Act, the tenancy law in the BGB was also revised. Since then, the landlord can no longer generally refuse a tenant’s request to set up a charging device in a parking space in the underground car park or on the premises of the apartment building.
The situation becomes tricky, however, if the landlord has special reasons for rejecting it, for example if he refers to the protection of historical monuments – or if he wants to install a system himself. “In these cases, he can refuse the move under certain circumstances, as the interests of the tenant in installing a wallbox and those of the landlord always have to be weighed up,” explains Wagner.
Tenants should therefore also look around for other people in the house and, if possible, enter into an exchange with the landlord with a joint proposal. So it is important to define exactly in advance which charging solution is best for the needs of the household community. Because various individual solutions are often technically difficult to implement in apartment buildings. Only when a common understanding has been reached, the application for wallbox installation should be submitted to the landlord, a resolution should follow and only then the installation.
Unlike with owners, however, a coordinated, joint approach is more difficult in practice with tenants when it comes to an apartment building in which several owners rent out their apartments. “Because then every tenant can have a different landlord as a contact, which makes things a little more complicated,” as the lawyer from Haus und Grund Germany explains. If a tenant requests the installation of a charging station in an apartment complex, the landlord, as the owner, can now also assert this against the community.
However, the courtesy ends with the costs: “It is important to know that the landlord does not have to contribute to the costs of the system,” says Wagner. The landlord can therefore contribute to the costs of the installation if he regards the charging device as an increase in value for the rental property, but is not obliged to do so.
And the expenses do not have to be limited to the installation bills alone. Because, attention: the landlord has the option of requesting that the installation be completely dismantled when the tenant moves out. “However, he may not make his approval of the installation dependent on whether the tenant pays an additional deposit to secure the dismantling,” says Wagner. On the other hand, if there is any doubt, an in-house charging station is a value-adding investment, which should make it easier for the parties to reach an agreement.
4. What applies to new buildings?
The Building Electromobility Infrastructure Act (GEIG) will in future also impose certain requirements on building owners when it comes to charging infrastructure for new buildings. “The law stipulates that, under certain conditions, a cable and charging infrastructure for e-mobiles must be provided in larger parking lots in residential and commercial buildings,” says Wagner. This means, for example, empty conduits through which the cables of a charging station or wallbox can later be pulled, as the owner association Haus und Grund Germany explains.
The new obligation applies to new residential buildings with more than five parking spaces. In the future, the building owner will have to equip every parking space with empty conduits for a possible future charging station. In the case of new non-residential buildings, the obligation applies from a number of six parking spaces and only applies to every third space, as stated by the house and the land.
In these buildings, however, the builders also have to set up a charging point. In addition, a charging facility must be installed in existing non-residential buildings with more than 20 parking spaces from 2025. There are exceptions for small companies, among others. There is an exception to the new obligation if, for example, the charging infrastructure accounts for more than seven percent of the total renovation costs.
5. Is an installation funded?
Yes. For some time now, KfW has been paying a subsidy to private individuals who have a charging station installed at home. The development bank offers 900 euros for each charging point that private individuals install in their home or in their underground car park. Charging stations with two charging points are even subsidized with 1,800 euros.
However, the bill for the wallbox and connection must be at least 900 euros, otherwise there is no money at all. Other essential prerequisites for funding are that the station charges with eleven kilowatts, that it is installed in a parking space not accessible to the public and that it is fed with 100 percent green electricity. The funded wallbox must therefore be used for at least one year. This may not be sold during this period, otherwise the applicant risks reclaiming the funding amount.
The demand for funding is high. By the summer, 620,000 applications for private charging stations had already been approved – so that the funding pot was empty in the meantime and KfW could not accept any new applications for a while. In the meantime, the federal government has injected a further 300 million euros, so that funding is secured again for the time being.
But be careful: the application must be submitted to KfW before purchasing the charging station. Municipalities, federal states and individual electricity providers also have additional financial support available in some cases.
6. How many Germans can benefit from the new regulation?
If you add tenants and homeowners together, at least a third of Germans will benefit from the new regulation, according to the car company VW. Overall, around 58 percent of people in Germany rent, almost half of which have their own parking space.
Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier assumes that the number of electric vehicles in Germany will be up to 14 million vehicles in 2030. In the first six months of this year, around 312,000 cars with electric drives were registered in Germany.
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