Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to grow in market share as businesses, governments and individuals consider them a key pillar in achieving carbon neutrality. To support wholesale adoption of EVs, more charging infrastructure is required.
Landlords and developers can take advantage of this opportunity by introducing charge points in their developments, though they will need to be considerate of the property risks involved.
Meeting growing demand
EV adoption has increased both nationally and globally over the last few years, and 2021 saw many major car manufacturers announcing pledges to pivot production towards EVs. Sales data from western Europe showed EVs outselling diesels in December 2021  (opens a new window).
While the EV market is booming, the greatest barrier to adoption is a lack of charging infrastructure. In the UK, this was described as “uneven and patchy” by the Competitions and Markets Authority report  (opens a new window). This is demonstrated in the infographic below showing the number of public EV charge points per 100,000 people.
To meet the government’s commitment to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 (supporting the legally binding commitment for the UK to be net zero by 2050), The Climate Change Committee estimates that the number of charging points will need to increase significantly in the next eight years.
Estimated charge points required by 2030
This presents an opportunity for landlords to review their own asset portfolios and help break down this EV adoption barrier. However, when implementing changes to infrastructure, it’s important to consider the risks and make sure accurate cover is in place.
What property risks do landlords face when implementing charging infrastructure?
Installation: Access is often partially blocked to the property during the installation period, which can cause disruption. As well as this, shallow excavation is sometimes required, which can cause damage if not completed by a competent contractor with a proven body of work behind them.
Electrical load: When seeking a competent contractor, including an M&E specialist, due care should be paid to whether the existing circuit can support the EV charge points. Suitable amendments should be made to ensure the appropriate electrical load is dedicated to the EV charge points.
Unattended charge points: Unattended charge points run the risk of being tampered with, accidentally damaged or vandalised.
Ventilation: Lithium-ion battery fires tend to be characterised as both intense and prolonged. A review by Exponent commissioned by the National Fire Protection Association cited one test where it took 22 hours to extinguish the fire driven by high concentrations of toxic fluoride gases that could not be extracted  (opens a new window).
Impact risk This risk will depend on whether the charging points are external or internal and the level of passing traffic.
Liability risk considerations
Landlords installing charging points will also need to pay due consideration to potential liability risks.
The majority of liability risks, including third party property damage and injury, can be addressed contractually with the manufacturer, installer, and contractor (if different) for maintenance. Landlords should seek legal advice if any party involved in the supply, installation or maintenance requires “holds harmless” wording to be inserted into their engagement.
While the contractual language will be a key consideration, especially on ensuring any third party claims are directed to the correct responsible party, the landlord should also look to ensure that all EV charge points have:
Surrounding areas clearly marked for EV parking to avoid the scenario of cable stretching;
Clear and unambiguous instructions on which EVs the charge point can accommodate;
The manufacturer’s instructions on safe usage;
Regular inspections to ensure that they are fit for purpose and that no signage/markings have been defaced.
What steps can be taken to mitigate these hazards?
Fire safety management framework, including the fire risk assessment for the premises, should be updated to reflect the introduction of EV charging points;
Consideration should be given whether the fire suppression and detection equipment are sufficient to meet the installation of EV charging points if being retro fitted;
EV charging points should be sited to ensure an adequate clear area for allowance of safe charging. Bays will need to be signed and marked prominently;
On-site representatives of the landlord/developer should be familiar with manual isolation of EV charging points based on manufacturer instructions;
The contractor, engaged for both installation and maintenance, should be suitably competent with appropriate third-party liability insurances depending on the number of EV charging points present;
EV charge should be placed on raised islands and protected with bollards or metal barriers to reduce impact risks;
CCTV cameras can be used to ensure coverage of EV charge points;
A dedicated circuit should be used for EV charge points.
For further information, please contact Michael Brett.